BI: Calayag dual citizen
|Sworn to service. This official Malacañang photograph shows Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala inducting his former aide Orlan Calayag as administrator of the National Food Authority in January this year. Calayag’s appointment is now being questioned because of his dual Filipino and American citizenships.|
THE Bureau of Immigration on Tuesday confirmed that the administrator of the National Food Authority, Orlan Calayag, is both a Filipino and an American citizen under the country’s dual citizenship law.
The bureau said Calayag remained a Filipino citizen by virtue of the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003, which states that all Filipinos nationals who become citizens of another country shall be deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship.
Bureau spokesperson Ma. Angelica Pedro said, however, that Filipinos holding dual citizenship cannot be appointed to public office unless they renounce their allegiance to their second country.
“Any natural-born citizens of the Philippines who have lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country can re-acquire Philippine citizenship upon taking the oath of allegiance to the Philippines,” Pedro said.
The Palace on Tuesday denied antedating Calayag’s appointment, saying he had merely served “the unexpired term” of his predecessor at the NFA.
“There was no antedating of his appointment. The text of the appointment only refers to the original term of office of Mr. [Angelito] Banayo, who Mr. Calayag was appointed to replace,” said Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma.
Asked if Mr. Aquino was aware of Calayag’s citizenship before he was appointed, Coloma said that all appointments go through a vetting and screening process before they reach to the President.
“To provide context, there are hundreds of appointments being made that go to the Office of the President, and each one of those appointments goes through a vetting and screening process. So that is what was done in this case and in all other appointments,” Coloma said, without commenting on the legality of the appointment.
He said there was an ongoing review to take into account Calayag’s citizenship and other allegations against him.
Alcala defended Calayag but said he would ask him to resign if the allegations against him were proved true.
“If they can give proof that these accusations are true, I will immediately ask him (Calayag) to resign. But as you see, everytime the NFA catches a rice smuggler, a lot of issues immediately arise,” Alcala said.
Magdalo party-list Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo added his voice Tuesday to demands that Calayag resign for violating the law.
Acedillo said it was undeniable that Calayag was a dual citizen and not a natural born citizen as required by the NFA charter.
AKO-Bilol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe agreed, saying a US citizen had not business heading a vital government agency in charge of food security.
Calayag holds other positions by virtue of his position at the NFA. He is also vice chairman of the NFA council, chairman of the Food Terminal, Inc., and a board member of the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority. He became administrator in July 2012, even while his predecessor Angelito Banayo was still in office, and would not leave for another three months.
“On the face of these serious allegations, maybe Administrator Calayag can spare the government and resign,” Acedillo told the Manila Standard, saying his continued stay in the NFA constituted a clear violation of the law.
Acedillo also said Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and the Palace, through the Presidential Management Staff, had many questions to answer.
“The questions for the government to answer now are: 1) What should the government do with Administrator Calayag’s appointment at NFA, which on its face, violated the law; 2) What is Secretary Alcala’s liability in consummating the appointment of Calayag, his former chief of staff and chosen recommendee for the post?, and 3) What role, if any, did the PMS have in conducting search committee procedures for the NFA post, and subsequently the GCG [Governance Commission for Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations], in vetting Orlan Calayag?”
But House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. urged critics to take it slow in demanding that Alcala and Calayag resign.
He said both officials deserved due process, and that calls for their resignation were not in order.
He expressed doubts about Calayag’s dual citizenship, saying Alcala was not stupid. “He knows what he’s doing,” Belmonte added.
Earlier, Abakada Rep. Jonathan Dela Cruz, Flores, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon, Gabriela Reps. Luz Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus, and Anakbayan president Vencer Crisostomo all demanded that Alcala and Calayag resign.
If they refused, the lawmakers said, President Benigno Aquino III should fire them both.
Zarate said Alcala should stop evading the citizenship issue and answer the issues raised against Calayag, including his being a “ghost employee” collecting compensation for two years while he was already working in the United States.
“Whether Calayag arrested smugglers is irrelevant to the question of citizenship being raised against him. If he is in fact a US citizen, he cannot serve government no matter how hard Malacanang tries to defend him,” Ridon said.
Dela Cruz chided Alcala for missing the “single most important qualification” provided for by the law against a non-Filipino sitting in government.
Under the dual citizenship act, Calayag reacquired his Philippine citizenship on Jan. 7, 2013 and took his oath of allegiance to the republic before the commissioner of Immigration.
Calayag arrived in the Philippines on Korean Airlines Flight 623 on Dec. 19, 2012, using an American passport.
Calayag had previously renounced his Philippine citizenship to become a citizen of the United States, thereby irrevocably losing his status as a natural born citizen of the Philippines, Dela Cruz said.
“Calayag’s reacquisition of Philippine citizenship under RA 9225 dated Jan. 7, 2013 merely makes him a naturalized citizen,” he said.
Calayag, Dela Cruz added, did not renounce his American citizenship but retained it under the dual citizenship act.
“Calayag is both an American and a Filipino citizen. As an American citizen, he is not fit to sit in such a crucial government post as chief of an agency tasked to ensure national food security,” he said.
Ilagan added: “We are afraid Calayag will be conflicted. What would be his decision in making crucial food security policies? Which citizenship will influence his decision?” With Sara Susanne Fabunan, Maricel V. Cruz, Christine F. Herrera and Anna Leah Estrada