The Supreme Court’s decision to grant Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s request for bail is a sound one. Voting 8-4, the SC finally allowed Enrile to post bail for P1 million, subject to the terms and conditions to be specified by the High Court. No one can argue against the fact that JPE is already 91 years old and, we should not forget, under the Revised Penal Code, because he is over 70, he can plead the mitigating circumstance of age in order to lower his sentence. For the same reason, he can apply for executive clemency when convicted.
Since JPE was indicted and was charged with the non-bailable crime of plunder, the good senator has been for the most part, under hospital arrest in Camp Crame. His petition for bail was filed close to a year back and from what I have been hearing from the grapevine, the decision to grant JPE the right to post bail is actually long overdue and could have been granted earlier. The allegation is actually not far-fetched, knowing the penchant of this administration for selective justice—that of outright disregard for the transgressions of political allies while going all out for critics and those on the other side of the political fence— something which has been so commonplace under this administration.
This is the reason I find Secretary Coloma’s declarations “assuring” the public that government’s resolve to fight corruption would not be diminished amid the high court’s decision, totally distasteful and hypocritical. How come we haven’t seen this commitment affecting Cabinet members of BS Aquino who have been embroiled in weightier cases of graft and corruption?
Going back to the issue of the citizenship of Senator Grace Poe, I firmly believe that it is high time for the Senate Electoral Tribunal to convene and finally settle this issue. It is unfair to both the senator and her supporters who are expecting to see her name among the presidential candidates come 2016, to keep the case dangling when it can already be resolved. Although I support her right to defend her case, I remain uncomfortable with the fact that she actually once decided to change her citizenship. As I stated in last week’s column, leaving your nationality for another is a big statement on your loyalty to your original country; and that the economic improvement of your family is a weak argument for renouncing your citizenship. After all, the US allows residency even if you do not become a US citizen.
Let me point out the significant difference between a “permanent resident” and “US citizen”. A permanent resident or a green card holder is someone who has been granted the right to live in the United States indefinitely, without losing or needing to renounce his or her original citizenship. These residents also have the right to work and to petition close family members to receive permanent residence status as well.
If you become a US citizen through the process of naturalization, you are required to swear the Oath of Allegiance and renunciation (in a public naturalization ceremony). You must establish that you will discharge the obligations of the Oath of Allegiance and will support and defend the Constitution of the US.
If Senator Poe was just interested in obtaining legal status to live and work in the US, she did not have to abandon her Filipino citizenship. She could have just opted to be a permanent resident instead. For this reason alone, her sincerity to serve as an elected official is automatically burdened already.