EDITORIAL. Due Process is Slow

Some people get frustrated that they think of shortcuts in the due process of law.

A case is filed at the lowest level of the justice system. After months it is decided after all the remedies will have been exhausted by both of the contending parties. The losing party then appeals the verdict to the next higher court. Another battle of court processes ensue. Then again, afterwards, the decision is appealed until it reaches the Supreme Court where it takes another long time for the case to be resolved.

This slow process was experienced by the people of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte who voted for a candidate later declared an American Citizen.

Rommel Arnado was born of natural Filipino parents in the said municipality. By a stroke of fate, he migrated to the United States and later acquired an American Citizenship.

In 2009, a year after the battles in Kauswagan between government forces and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ended through a ceasefire agreement, Arnado renounced his foreign citizenship and returned to his hometown to run for Mayor in the May 2010 Elections.. However, a few months after filing his Certificate of Candidacy, he went to the United States using his American passport and was recorded as an American by the Bureau of Immigration during his exit and return to the country shortly before the election campaign begun.

One of his two opponents petitioned the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) for his disqualification contending that, being an American, he was not qualified to run. The litigation was overtaken by the election and he garnered the highest number of votes.

Months later, the COMELEC decided that Arnado was not a qualified candidate in the 2010 elections and declared as winner his opponent who got the next higher number of votes. But he appealed the said decision to the Supreme Court.

He ran again in the 2013 Elections and won. But a few months before that Election, the Supreme Court affirmed the COMELEC decision. Toward the end of May 2013, the declared winner took his Oath of Office and assumed the Office of the Mayor. But he was not able to enter the municipal hall because supporters of the American occupant held a rally in front of the municipal building and blocked all entry points.

The winner in that election had the shortest term in the history of Kauswagan and he was not able to enter the municipal hall.

The loser of the 2013 Election again petitioned the COMELEC for the winner’s disqualification. That petition again went all the way to the Supreme Court. And again, using its previous ruling since the facts of the case were similar, the high court in its decision promulgated on August 18, this year, disqualified the American and declared his opponent the winner of the 2013 Elections.

The declared winner has yet to assume office,

This is a lesson to every Filipino.

If one truly loves his country he should never relinquish his Citizenship. Someday, he might run for elective office and he will regret.

And even if due process in this country takes a long time, the law will soon catch up with him.


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