MANILA, January 13, 2004 (STAR) ROSES AND THORNS By Alejandro R. Roces - All one has to do to realize that the movie world is now in the forefront of our political predicament is to read the front pages of any leading newspaper. Yesterday, for instance, the two most prominent stories were about Fernando Poe’s citizenship and Erap Estrada’s permission to go abroad for medical treatment. And, of course, there were other minor stories about personalities in the entertainment world who are running for public office in this coming elections. The two worlds represent two extremes. One is a make-believe world, the other deals with hard realities.


Yesterday, no less than President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came out to vouch for Fernando Poe Jr.’s being a Filipino citizen. "I have no reason to doubt his being a Filipino both in heart and spirit. If he needs any official document or evidence to fight his case, the government is prepared to help." But the real question is not whether FPJ is a Filipino. It is whether he is a natural-born Filipino. Only natural-born Filipinos are qualified to run for the highest post in the land.

There are legal terms that the general public should be familiar with to understand the question of FPJ’s citizenship. One is jus sanguinis, on the rule of law that the citizenship of the parents determines that of their children’s. The other is jus soli, or the law that says that the citizenship of a child is determined by the place of his birth. So the real question is not the citizenship of Fernando Poe Jr. but whether he is a natural-born citizen. Fernando Poe’s father, Allan Fernando Poe, Sr. was a Spanish citizen and his mother Elizabeth was an American citizen when FPJ was born in Pangasinan in 1940. To complicate matters, some people have contended that the marriage of Fernando Poe, Sr. and Elizabeth was bigamous. This is the matter that should be clarified once and for all.


The other is the Sandiganbayan’s decision to allow impeached president Joseph Estrada to go to abroad for medical treatment. As pointed out by a joint article by Jovito R. Salonga and Florin T. Hilbay, the Sandiganbayan special division trying Estrada’s case had three basic options to take. First, totally deny his request; second, grant his request and lose its jurisdiction on the case, third, agree to his request for medical treatment but have the operation done locally by competent Filipino doctors.

The Sandiganbayan opted for Estrada’s request to get his medical operation in the United States. And Estrada has even said that his only fear is that they will not allow him to come back. This is how ridiculous things are. Indeed, we are third world country and we are not even a Banana Republic. We are a Kamote Republic.

No wonder all our Asian neighbors are moving ahead of us.

And now we are looking for movie stars to save our Republic.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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