THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) is allowing Margot Osmeña to run for the city council but has barred her fellow aspirant Ronald Cuenco.

Osmeña proved that her abandonment of her US permanent resident status was approved, said the Comelec’s 2nd Division yesterday.

Click here for stories and updates on the Sinulog 2010 Festival.

The mayor’s wife managed to present a copy of a visitor’s visa, a document that would not have been needed had her green card remained valid.

According to the judgment signed by Commissioners Nico-demo Ferrer, Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph, Osmeña denounced her US permanent residency status earlier, on July 5, 2007.

Cuenco only presented an application for abandonment that was filed on Nov. 24 last year.

The former city councilor said yesterday he will file a motion for reconsideration as soon as he receives a copy of the Comelec’s decision disqualifying him.

The ruling resolves the petition that Rajeni Dy, another candidate for a seat in the city council, filed with the Comelec last December.

Renewal

Cuenco said his camp did not try to prove his residency because what was alleged in the petition against him and Margarita “Margot” Osmeña was their being US citizens

when they filed their certificates of candidacy (COCs).

Cuenco said he renewed his voter’s registration in 2008, which presupposes that he is also a resident of the city. That same year, he said, he returned to the country from the US at least four times.

“I am preparing the necessary documents. What was alleged was that at the time I filed my COC I was a US citizen, not that I am not yet a resident of Cebu City…. We cannot answer something that is not being questioned,” Cuenco said.

His legal counsel, City Councilor Edgardo Labella, said in a separate interview that he is confident the decision will be reversed, once they present documents showing he was registered in December 2008.

Registered

“We know for a fact that Ronald became a registered voter as of December 2008. That presupposes the fact that he has been already admitted as a resident of the country,” he said.

“On the issue of abandonment of citizenship, it is a unilateral act of the permanent resident, which by itself is renouncement enough. It is also signed by an alien control officer of the US State Department, and the signature is tantamount to an approval; there is no need for further proceedings. It is the prerogative of the Filipino who wants to abandon his US citizenship,” he added.

Cuenco and Osmeña, both members of the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan, are candidates of the Liberal Party. Petitioner Dy is running under the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Dy said he was happy with the decision, though Osmeña was not disqualified.

He said what he just wanted was for all candidates to comply with the requirements set by law.

“Nalipay lang pud ko kay at least ang ubang mga kandidato, pinaagi sa desisyon, makakuha diay og fair treatment…. Wala ta namersonal (I am happy to be reassured that other candidates can get fair treatment. This not a personal quarrel),” said Dy, 30, a resident of Barangay Labangon.

Green card

Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code requires aspirants to give up their permanent resident or immigrant status in any foreign country before they can become candidates for public office.

The “green card” or Permanent Resident’s Card allows foreigners to live and work for a limited time in the US.

Dy had requested that Osmeña and Cuenco’s names be removed from the official lists of candidates because they made “false material representation” in their COCs.

Atty. Dave Duallo, counsel for Dy, said the Comelec ruling sustains their position that applications for abandonment are not evidence that one has already renounced his or her status as a permanent resident and, thus, can run for office.