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Consul General Mario L. de Leon, Jr. with Dr. Linda Pelayo at the office of the Filipino Reporter.  (File photo)


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ONCE again, our Consul General in New York and the Northeast region, Ambassador Mario L. de Leon, Jr., demonstrated one of his professional traits, i.e., kindness, that makes him the darling of the Filipino-Americans in our area.

You may have read the message he wrote officially in the stationery of the Consulate, somewhere in this issue or in Facebook, which memorialized Bert Pelayo, founder, former publisher and editor-in-chief of the Filipino Reporter, on the first anniversary of Bert’s death on Feb. 3.

The good ConGen described Bert as a “Filipino community stalwart” and “a pioneer Fil-Am journalist in New York.”


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The late Bert Pelayo.  (File photo)


Ambassador de Leon also wrote, “His (Bert Pelayo’s) discernment in publishing and communication has been critical in maintaining a peaceful and pacific Filipino community in the U.S. Northeast.”

It is the same caring attitude of this senior Filipino diplomat that prompted some 130 leaders of various community organizations in the Northeast to request Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario to extend ConGen de Leon’s assignment in New York by another 12 months.

Thank you po, Ambassador de Leon.


***


U.S. presidential politics

We are witnessing the “conversion” of American candidates into Filipino-like politicians in the way they accuse and insult each another.

Some Republican candidates are leading the pack.

Donald Trump accused opponent Sen. Ted Cruz of “stealing” victory in the Iowa caucuses by allegedly spreading the rumor that another fellow Republican candidate, Dr. Carson, has suspended his campaign.

Sen. Cruz got back by saying that Mr. Trump’s failure to win the Iowa caucuses, as forecast, has made him throw away another “trumper tantrum.”

Dr. Carson, for his part, branded Sen. Cruz as “corrupt” for spreading the rumor.

At the same time, Sen. Marco Rubio unexpectedly placed a strong third in Iowa.

In the Democratic front, Sec. Hillary Clinton edged Sen. Bernie Sanders by less than 1% in the Iowa caucuses.

The two Democrats are caught in a debate on two opposing but confusing values, being moderate and being progressive.

Moderate is the now word for conservative.

Progressive is the now word for liberal. It’s just kind of re-branding because the old words have developed bad connotations.

In spite of all the above, caucuses and primaries play a positive role in enhancing democracy.

The people are given the chance to have direct dialogue with presidential candidates and eventually select who will represent their party in the national elections in a national convention.

As we know by now, the selection of a presidential candidate in this country for each of the two political parties is like passing through the hole of a needle.

The procedure is so rigid and is very thorough.

When the primaries are over, the national convention of each party will convene and the delegates will select the standard-bearer in a riotous and jolly convention.

Come November, there will be new president-elect of the United States.


***


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Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Grace Poe on Jan. 27.  (Photo by Benjie Castro)



Philippine presidential politics

The May 2016 presidential elections in the native country is still hanging to this day in the sense that the fate of one of the aspirants, Sen. Grace Poe, is still being heard by the Philippine Supreme Court.

The Court is deciding whether Sen. Poe’s disqualification as presidential candidate by the Commission on Elections because she is not a natural-born Filipino citizen and she is not in compliance with the 10-year residency requirement as mandated by the Philippine Constitution will be sustained or whether she will be declared qualified to run.

Comelec pointed out that those who seek elective public office, especially the Office of the President, must be compliant with the eligibility requirements under the Constitution.

Article IV, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution, defined 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 their Philippine citizenship.”

The same document requires that a presidential candidate should have resided in the Philippines 10 years prior to the elections.

The confirmed candidates for president are Vice President Jejomar Binay; Sec. Mar Roxas; Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago; and Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

It is worth noting that in the United States, “the federal courts have repeatedly refused to allow voters to bring lawsuits disqualifying presidential candidates on the basis of the ‘natural-born citizen’ clause because voters don’t have the proper ‘standing’ — their alleged injury is too generalized to justify a court order of relief.”

In the Philippines, the framers gave utmost importance to citizenship (they even defined what a natural-born citizen is) for presidential candidates unlike in the United States.

Thus, the Supreme Court of the Philippines has entertained the Grace Poe issue.

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