Saturday, October 30, 2004

Philippine citizenship for sale

Philippine citizenship for sale

Updated 01:20am (Mla time) Oct 30, 2004
By Isagani Cruz
Inquirer News Service

Editor's Note: Published on page A14 of the October 30, 2004 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

I'M not a sports fan and usually don't read the sports page, which is why I am not able to react when friends discuss the latest basketball game that has excited a lot of people. The only items that interest me are those about the progress of Maria Sharapova on the tennis court, not because of her athletic prowess but because she's a pretty girl. I was also glad over that recent bout where Mike Tyson was pummeled by a 6-1 underdog who cleansed the boxing world of his shabby opponent, a shady character finally dumped into the dustbin of has-beens.

But there was a recent report that caught my attention and, I feel, deserves a little comment. This was the decision of the Department of Justice finding five basketball players to be sham Filipinos who have falsified their records to qualify as members, nay, stars, of the basketball teams of several local companies seeking to trade on the talents of these foreigners as advertising gimmicks for their products. For this purpose, these aliens
Print this story
Send this story
Write the editor
View other stories

declared under oath that they were Filipinos entitled to play in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) competitions where only citizens are allowed. In exchange for this duplicity, they were offered and enjoyed fantastic emoluments in excess of those paid our local players.

I saw the pictures of these athletes and they look like foreigners, not Filipinos. The companies that hired them were apparently satisfied, perhaps happy, over the solemn assertion of Philippine citizenship by these aliens and did not bother to look more closely into their real nationality. Maybe these companies even helped in the deception. They probably felt that the truth or falsity of these players' claim of Philippine citizenship was not that important because it involved only their qualification as players in a basketball tournament. Philippine citizenship was only a formal requirement, nothing else.

I was the “writer of the original decision of the Supreme Court in the cases of Frivaldo v. Commission on Elections, 174 SCRA 245, and Labo v. Commission on Elections, 176 SCRA 1, where we disqualified the petitioners as elected local officials because they had earlier been naturalized in foreign countries and had not bothered to repatriate themselves. I said that the citizen of the Philippines "must take pride in his status as such and cherish this priceless gift that out of more than a hundred other nationalities God has chosen to grant him." Naturally, he will not share it with others not similarly blessed. "This country of ours, for all its difficulties and limitations, is like a jealous and possessive mother." It will not admit into its fold persons pretending to love it, even if they are outstanding basketball players.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez deserves commendation for his decision against the five alien athletes who have committed perjury and falsification of public records to support their false claim of Philippine citizenship. Their mercenary motive makes their offenses all the more condemnable. Gonzalez has ordered their detention preparatory to their deportation as undesirable aliens for taking undue advantage of Philippine citizenship and regarding it so lightly for merely occupational purposes.

The sanction of deportation, while merciful enough, is by itself alone hardly appropriate for the crimes the athletes have committed. Fortunately, Secretary Gonzalez has also called for their prosecution and punishment for their falsification of public documents, only after which can they be deported and good riddance. Their employers should also be punished for their possible complicity in the deception foisted by the sham Filipinos. It is highly possible that the companies that hired them directed, and in fact even actively participated in, the falsification of their credentials to ensure the victory of their teams in the PBA games. After all, winning is everything, and winning will translate to more sales and higher profits, never mind that Philippine citizenship has been degraded.

And the Department of Justice investigators should also train their attention on the local officials who helped these false Filipinos to register as citizens of this country. Several civil registrars are suspected of having falsely issued documents to prove the alleged Philippine nationality of some of the players, obviously in exchange for expensive monetary appreciation. These officials are liable for falsification of public documents and also the rank crime of bribery to sell Philippine citizenship.

The Philippines is ranked as the 11th most corrupt country in the world and has long been known as a nation of domestics for affluent societies. Yet it has not occurred to me to seek another nationality out of shame for this land of my birth or escape it for greener pastures and their material inducements. By contrast, these foreign players would eschew their own native countries and pretend to be citizens of this modest land as long as they are abundantly salaried to be sham Filipinos. This is an insult to us true Filipinos.


Post a Comment

<< Home