Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ecija congressional bet sets face-off with disqualification petitioners before Comelec

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, April2, 2013–A 32-year-old congressional candidate who is facing a disqualification petition before the Commission on Elections  for allegedly being a US citizen is facing off the two petitioners in a conference set tomorrow at the poll body’s office in Intramuros, Manila.

Magnolia Rosa C. Antonino-Nadres is set to appear before the Comelec’s First Division to answer the petition seeking to disqualify her in the congressional race in southern Nueva Ecija.

Earlier, Clerk of Commission Ma. Josefina dela Cruz, in a summons with notice of conference directed Antonino-Nadres to appear in the Wednesday conference, effectively giving due course to the petition.

          Dela Cruz warned Antonino-Nadres that failure to appear before the scheduled conference shall be considered as a waiver and render the petition deemed submitted for resolution.

          A separate notice of conference has been sent to lawyer Tyrone Contado, counsel for petitioners Pedro Fajardo and Desita Garcia.

          Both parties have been given 10 days after the date of conference within which to file their respective memorandum.

          Antonino-Nadres, of San Francisco St., Barangay Langla, Jaen, Nueva Ecija, is the daughter of outgoing three-term fourth district Rep. Rodolfo Antonino.

          More popularly known as Megan, Antonino-Nadres is seeking to succeed her father in the district which covers Gapan City and the southern Nueva Ecija towns of Cabiao, Gen. Tinio, Jaen, Penaranda, San Isidro, San Leonardo and San Antonio.

She is running under the National Unity Party founded by the elder Antonino against two-time San Leonardo Mayor Froilan Nagano, comebacking former two-term Rep. Julita Lorenzo-Villareal and Villareal’s sister-in-law, former San Isidro mayor and Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) executive director Sonia Lorenzo.

          The five-page petition filed by Fajardo and Desita Garcia said respondent Antonino-Nadres is disqualified to run for Congress in the fourth district based on Article 6 of the 1987 Constitution which provides that no person shall be a member of the House of Representatives unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.

          The petition added that pursuant to Section 2, Article 4 of the same Constitution, it is stipulated that natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Filipino citizenship.

          Antonino-Nadres’ camp has dismissed the petition as politically motivated and is allegedly meant to sow confusion among the people.

          But Nagano dismissed Antonino-Nadres’ claims, saying the fact that the petition was given due course by the Comelec means there must be some merit on the said petition. He said the conference affords Antonino-Nadres the chance to deny the claims contained in the petition.

“The conference is the proper forum for Antonino-Nadres to deny the allegations that she is a US citizen. There, she is given her day in court,” he said.  

          The petitioners cited some grounds on why Antonino-Nadres should be disqualified among which are that she is a US citizen, she is not registered with the National Statistics Office and she holds an American passport.   

          It cited that in her certificate of candidacy filed on October 2,2012, Antonino-Nadres wrote that she was born in San Mateo County, California which, pursuant to the doctrine of “jus soli” is a citizen of the US.

          NSO administrator and civil registrar general Carmelita Ericta, in a certification issued last February 19 said Antonino-Nadres is not registered with the NSO. Antonino-Nadres only registered as a voter in Jaen in 2006.

The petitioners also claimed the respondent is a holder of an American passport which she had consistently used in entering and leaving the Philippines as gleaned from a certification issued last February 22 by the Bureau of Immigration confirming that she used the foreign passport in her numerous travels since 1996.

          They added that being a citizen of the United States of America or at least having dual allegiance, Antonino-Nadres is disqualified to run for the position of Member of the House of Representatives which requires a natural born citizen of the Philippines. (Manny Galvez)

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