Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco raised the issue of Grace Poe’s citizenship three days ago. However, the issue has been simmering in social media for quite some time. The first time I saw such a post was on April 28, 2015- an image of Grace Poe superimposed on a picture of the American flag and Uncle Same with the caption “Pano ko iboboto ang taong tinakwil ang bayan ko?” from a Facebook Group named “Ayaw ko Poe”.  Another version has the text of the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America, in quotation marks, attributed to Grace Poe.
The message of both images is clear- “Grace Poe is not fit to become President because she betrayed her country by becoming an American citizen”. Or in shorter terms, “Grace Poe is a traitor”. The message is apparent due to the use of the words “tinakwil ang bayan”- a powerful phrase which “to turn one’s back” or “abandon” the Filipino nation.
Whether Binay’s camp created or simply rode the wave of doubt is unknown. However, it is clear that the message outline above has caused consternation- at times even caustic vitriol- in social media and beyond. Recently, columnist Rigoberto Tiglao of the Manila Times published an article entitled “Citizenship by convenience”. The first part of the article clearly “rides the wave” of doubt which I identified above. I quote the first few paragraphs below:
“(Grace Poe) renounced being Filipino when she became a US citizen, and she doesn’t even care to tell us when. To become one, she declared under oath, to use the words of the US Oath of Allegiance, that she ‘absolutely and entirely renounces and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to the’ Philippines.’
In that oath, she even vowed to “bear arms” on behalf of the US. And you want somebody who solemnly renounced — the meaning of “abjure” — the Philippines to be our leader?
We are talking here of somebody who had a Filipino citizenship but who decided in her adult life to be an American citizen.”
Again, same line of thought. “Renounce” is the legal equivalent of “Pagtakwil”. Tiglao. and maybe Rep. Tiangco, are reading from the same old script.
Which brings me to my question, Mr. Tiglao- are all Filpino-Americans traitors?
If Grace Poe betrayed the Philippines by becoming an American citizen, does this not imply that all Filipino-Americans are traitors? It isn’t Grace Poe but what she did- the act, not the person- that is supposedly tantamount to betrayal. Therefore, everyone who does the same act- becoming a U.S. citizen- should be subject to the same logic. If this were not the case, then we would have a logical fallacy. It would mean that only Grace Poe is traitor because she became an American citizen. Everyone else, umm, gets a pass?
I am unaware how many Filipino citizens have gained American citizenship. But it is clear to me that, if Tiglao’s, Tiangco’s, and Ayaw Ko Poe’s logic is correct, then all Filipino-Americans should be prosecuted for treason. It is dumb logic, disappointing for such a intellectual like Mr. Tiglao.
Fortunately, Mr. Tiglao’s article provides an explanation. In his article, Tiglao adds a new dimension to the “Grace Poe is an American Traitor” argument- she is just a member of the elite, and thus a traitor, unlike other Fil-Ams. He writes:
“Was she poor that she just wanted her family to escape poverty from her unwanted country? No. Was she escaping political persecution? No.
She comes from a family that was among the Philippines’ rich elite. She studied in the most expensive schools here (high school, Assumption College San Lorenzo) and abroad (Boston College). She had famous and very rich step-parents. Her father was even rumored to be the most powerful Filipino ever, Ferdinand Marcos.”
Yet, she decided to renounce her being Filipino, and swore allegiance to the US.
For what? For the convenience of shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue or Tiffany’s or maybe even Walmart, and touring Disneyland and Hollywood anytime she wanted? What does that tell us of her character and deepest values?” 
Thus it becomes clear that Mr. Tiglao’s article is not about Grace Poe’s alleged American citizenship per se. It is her being a member of the Filipino “elite”, who left the country when it was convenient. She wasn’t poor, like the Velosos. She wasn’t poor like our OFW Kabayayan. She was an American citizen, by convenience, just another spoiled brat who went to America. As it is in the title of Mr. Tiglao’s article: Grace Poe was an American citizen by convenience!
If Grace Poe left because it was convenient, then why did she return? Why did she start over, sell her properties in the U.S. and have her children study in the Philippines? Why did she put up with the endless traffic, the corrupt politicians, the inefficient government? Why did she leave America, the land of plenty and convenience, for our country and its horrible public transportation, expensive public services and endless taxes? The Philippines has many inconveniences- but apparently not for Grace Poe.
Intrigue, intrigue, intrigue. Intrigue- tsismis in the vernacular- is what lubricates our political mills. That is the problem with Mr. Tiglao’s article- it is filled with speculation and intrigue. Let’s list down the number of times Mr. Tiglaou uses this to device in his article:
- “We are talking here of somebody who had a Filipino citizenship but who decided in her adult life to be an American citizen, who even probably, I dare speculate…”
- “Her father was even rumored to be the most powerful Filipino ever, Ferdinand Marcos.”
- “…she decided to renounce her being Filipino, and swore allegiance to the US. For what? For the convenience of shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue or Tiffany’s or maybe even Walmart, and touring Disneyland and Hollywood anytime she wanted? What does that tell us of her character and deepest values?
- Has her husband renounced his US citizenship? Or are they keeping their options open, one foot on each of their two countries, and decide where they’ll stay when doing so becomes convenient and profitable for them?
- Did she ever show any interest in social issues even in the US, and more so in the huge problems of our country, to think she can lead us as President? Did she study political science or public administration that led her to want to contribute her expertise to the development of her country?
- Do we want to risk a scenario in which the US blackmails the Philippine President to force her to comply with all its interests, even provide any information it requires? Do we risk a scenario where the nation is humiliated, with an American investigative journalist writing a banner article headlined: “Philippine President once an illegal alien in the US?”
Obviously, Mr. Tiglao can be spared from the standards demanded from journalism students. It is an opinion article after all. Yet it shows how a man, with access to the internet, can publish his “opinions” to generate intrigue and distort the truth.
 Casauay, A. “Binay camp: Poe not qualified to run for president or VP” Rappler. http://www.rappler.com/nation/politics/elections/2016/95060-tiangco-grace-poe-residency
 Tiglao, R. “Citizenship by convenience” The Manila Times. Retrieved from http://www.manilatimes.net/citizenship-by-convenience/189238/