Aga not delisted, can run for Congress

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 21 2013 04:26 PM | Updated as of Jan 22 2013 10:08 AM

MANILA, Philippines -- Actor Aga Muhlach remains a registered voter of the 4th district of Camarines Sur.

This was announced by his lawyer Romulo Macalintal on Monday morning at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Manila.

Muhlach and Macalintal showed up at the Comelec to personally receive a copy of the poll body's dismissal of the disqualification case over his alleged Spanish citizenship.

Last week, Muhlach's lawyer Michelle Juan announced that the local Election Registration Board (ERB) of Camarines Sur defied an appellate court restraining order against his delisting.

The ERB delisted Muhlach and wife Charlene over questions on his residency. Muhlach is running for a congressional seat, which requires that he first be a registered voter of the district.

Macalintal, however, explained today that the ERB merely wanted to get a certified true copy of the appellate court's order, and that Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes himself said that the Muhlachs have not been delisted.

"There's no reason why it shouldn't be implemented. Walang jurisdiction ang Comelec because it involves the right to vote and Comelec has no jurisdiction over the right to vote. Reinstated siya. He's on the list," Macalintal said.

Muhlach sounded gratified by his consecutive victories.

"Well I'm really the happiest right now. Unang una, sunod-sunod kasi 'yung nagiging magagandang nangyayari. What's important right now really is 'yung wala nang pipigil talaga," Muhlach said.

"At least napatunayan na ako'y Pilipino, naniwala ang Comelec. Lahat ng tao sa partido sa distrito very excited. I'm raring to go back, today I fly back. Nagse-celebarte lahat. Tuloy tuloy na ito. It's really for them," he said.

Muhlach added he is prepared for whatever his political opponents may still throw at him.

The disqualification case over his alleged citizenship stems from the Spanish government's recognition of the citizenship of his father. However Muhlach never swore allegiance to Spain.

Muhlach's father is a naturalized Filipino who married his natural-born Filipino mother. Muhlach was himself born in the Philippines and is a natural-born Filipino.

Macalintal, for his part, wants laws amended to require that only election rivals of candidates be allowed to file complaints. Macalintal noted that politicians would resort to using private citizens to go after their rivals.

"In all disqualification cases, the cases are not filed by rivals. Only innocent voters are being used as a tool," the lawyer said.

The citizenship case was filed by Gilmar Pacamara, a voter of CamSur.

In the 1st division's resolution penned by Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, the division dismissed the petition to deny due course to or cancel the certificate of candidacy for lack of merit.

It said that the respondent has not made any false material representations in his certificate of candidacy. It noted that the petitioner does not dispute Muhlach's birth in the Philippines and to Filipino parents. The commission noted that under the constitution, having two Filipino parents, Muhlach is a natural-born Filipino.

Furthermore, the division said none of the documents submitted by the petitioner can show that Muhlach abandoned his Filipino citizenship.

What's clear to the commission is that Muhlach is a dual citizen. It also noted that while Muhlach's father was recognized as a Spanish citizen, it does not make Muhlach lose his Filipino citizenship.

As discussed in the case of actor Edu Manzano before the Supreme Court, the reality is there maybe situations in which a citizen of the Philippines, may without performing any act be also a citizen of another state.

For his part, Comelec's Brillantes said Muhlach's disqualification case over his Spanish citizenship is not yet final and may still be reversed by the commission en banc.

Brillantes noted that the ruling is just a division ruling subject to appeal within five days. The ruling only becomes final after that.

Muhlach is running against Felix Wimpy Fuentebella, a former congressman and son of deputy speaker Arnuflo Fuentebella, whose family claims the district as a bailiwick.