Boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao (3rd from left) and Timothy Bradley (4th from left) pose after Thursday’s press conference at Madison Square Garden in New York announcing their third fight on April 9. With them are their respective trainers Freddie Roach (2nd from left) and Teddy Atlas (5th from left).  (Photo by Lambert Parong / Filipino Reporter)

BEFORE giving my lecture on Constitution and citizenship, let’s welcome back Manny Pacquiao to New York.

He was at Madison Square Garden Thursday to promote his forthcoming and last fight in the ring (according to Manny himself) against Timothy Bradley on April 9.

This legendary Filipino boxer is set to retire from the sports after his next fight.

“Not all the time you keep on fighting and not all the time you’re in the ring,” he told reporters in Beverly Hills Wednesday.

Personally, I would like him to win as senator of the Philippines in the May 2016 elections.

Only because of his evident sincerity to be of help to the Filipino people.

Talking to American reporters earlier this week, he said, “And I remember when I started (in boxing) I wanted to help my family, my mother. Now I end my boxing career because I want to help my countrymen, the Filipino people.”

Best to Manny P.

Manny Pacquiao takes a selfie with Manny Caballero of the Filipino Reporter last year.


The Constitution

The Constitution is the highest law of a country.

All government authority emanates from this document of rules that serves as guide on how a country operates.

A Constitution is put together by delegates to a constitutional convention elected by the people for that purpose.

Then, the product of their toil is presented to the people for final ratification in a voting process called plebiscite.

I’m glad I studied Constitutions in my undergraduate course in college for one semester under an eminent professor of Constitutional Law at the University of the Philippines.

It’s been useful in my work here.

There are two major topics or subjects of study under this discipline: constitutional construction and constitutional interpretation.

Construction is how a constitution is supposed to be written.

Interpretation is how to interpret the provisions of a constitution.

It is in the correct interpretation where the discussions about the question about being natural-born citizen is centered on our subject politicians.

Sen. Grace Poe is flanked by her mother, veteran actress Susan Roces, and running mate Sen. Chiz Escudero as they wait for the start of the oral argument on the citizenship issue of Poe at the Supreme Court on Jan. 19.  (Photo by Danny Pata)

Presidential contenders Ted Cruz (USA) and Grace Poe (Philippines) face similar questions about their supposedly not being natural-born citizens of their respective countries.

Questions were raised in courts that both are not “natural-born citizens” as prescribed by the Constitutions of their respective countries for persons who want to be president.

As many of us know by now, Sen. Poe is a foundling who was found inside a church in Iloilo days after she was born.

Her parents are unknown to this day.

She was legally adopted by the late Fernando Poe, Jr. and Susan Roces and, thereby, became citizen of the Philippines.

The principle of “jus sanguinis” (law of the blood) as basis of citizenship applies in the Philippines.

In this case, no one knows who and what nationality Sen. Poe’s parents are.  

Furthermore, the Philippine Constitution defines a natural-born citizen as one who is a citizen of the Philippines from birth “without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect his or her Philippine citizenship.”

Even if “natural-born citizen” is defined in the Philippine Constitution, in the event there is a need to interpret a vague provision, there are three accepted ways, in the following order:

1. Literal meaning.

2. Precedents or related past court decisions.

3. Intent of the framers.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, on the other hand, was born in Canada with an American mother and Cuban father.

The U.S. Constitution, unlike the Philippine Constitution, applies the principle of “jus soli” (law of the place) as basis of citizenship.

Strictly, it means a child born within the territorial jurisdiction of the USA, irrespective of the nationality of the parents, is considered American citizen.

But, the U.S. Constitution does not define what a “natural-born” is.

There are few exceptions though like children of Americans in the diplomatic corps or soldiers born in American embassies or military camps abroad.

In America, there are three ways to interpret the vague provisions of the Constitution, including the definition of “natural-born” American citizen.

(According to a professor of constitutional law and international law at Fordham Law School.)

1. First theory is Textualism: the Constitution means what its words say. The historical context of the words is important when a modern plain meaning is not self-evident.

2. A second theory, adopted by many liberals, relies on a “living Constitution”: the Constitution means what is most consistent with fundamental constitutional values as applied to present circumstances.

3. The third theory, championed by many leading conservatives, is originalism: The Constitution means what ordinary people would have understood it to mean at the time it was ratified, which is 1788.

According to the author of the above op-ed article in the Los Angeles Times, Ted Cruz will be considered natural-born with the first and second theories.

But, not, with the third theory which, ironically, is the group (conservatives) to which he belongs.

There are cases pending in Philippine and U.S. courts concerning the predicament of the above-mentioned presidential candidates.

Let’s wait for the court’s decisions.

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