Actor-politician Edu Manzano insisted Filipinos can still “vote” for him, this after the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) canceled his candidacy as San Juan representative last May 6.
In a ruling issued Monday, the Comelec 2nd Division stated that the COC of Manzano “must be denied due course and/or canceled because he committed false material representation on his citizenship.”
Among others, it cited as basis that Manzano served in the United States Armed Forces.
“It is undisputed that Respondent served in the US Armed Forces. Respondent, however, argues that he served in the US Armed Forces as a US citizen and at the same time retained his status as a natural born Filipino citizen. We do not agree,” the government office said, adding that Manzano “forfeited the priceless gift of Philippine citizenship” when he served in the US Armed Forces.
The poll body added, “We hold that Respondent failed to reacquire his Philippine citizenship for non-compliance with the requirements of Republic Act No. 2630 and is thus ineligible to run for member, House of Representatives, representing the lone district of San Juan City.”
In an interview, Manzano said he’s not at all bothered by the decision, only to clear that he finds the “timing very suspect.”
On the issue of American citizenship, he countered: “That was in 1972. The Vietnam War was ongoing then and being born in the United States, I had to serve as draftee. It wasn’t by choice. And it’s been a long time since. The issue is rehash. It was already done to me before and the SC decided I’m Filipino.”
Recall that in 1998, then Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado filed a petition questioning the citizenship of Manzano, who was running against him.
It didn’t prosper with the Supreme Court ruling in favor of Manzano, citing, “the fact that he has spent his youth and adulthood, received his education, practiced his profession as an artist, and taken part in past elections in this country, leaves no doubt of his election of Philippine citizenship.”
“I didn’t see this coming, honestly. I never thought my political opponents would actually resort to using an old issue,” the 63-year-old lamented. “It is suspect. We need five days to file a motion and they know this too that’s why they released it publicly on Monday so, counting the days, we could only file our motion after Election Day.”
He, along with his lawyer, former Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes, reiterated the Comelec ruling is “not final.”
“Since the election will be on Monday (May 13), there’s no way that the decision of the division rendered only on May 6, Monday, will never become final come election day,” Brillantes made clear.
They will also file a motion for reconsideration either Thursday or Friday.
Once a motion for reconsideration is filed, Brillantes said the decision of the Comelec 2nd Division will be vacated. That means they need to wait for the decision of the Comelec En Banc that will be made public “weeks or months after the elections.”
Manzano, who claims he is “a natural-born Filipino,” admitted he feels “bullied.”
“But I’m not worried. By the looks of it, this could actually backfire on them. People identify with those being bullied and harassed, which is what exactly my opponents are doing to me,” he added.
It turns out, he noted, the case seems to be to his advantage.
“To be honest, if you look at my Facebook followers now, it ascended by couple of thousands because people are curious if I’m really disqualified. But I’m sorry to say, I’m not,” he said.
To voters, the actor-turned-politician has this to say: “My name is still in the ballot… If you vote for me it will be counted.”