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Lim wins citizenship suit
By Andrea H. Trinidad, PDI



NO BALLOTS had yet been cast, but Alfredo Lim hadreason to celebrate.

Lim, Liberal Party standard-bearer, yesterday claimed an ''initial victory'' after the Commission on Elections dismissed a petition challenging his citizenship and allowed him to pursue his campaign for the presidency.

Voting 7-0, the Comelec, sitting as a whole body, threw out a petition filed by lawyer Andresito Fornier, who wanted Lim barred from running for allegedly not being a natural-born Filipino.

Lim lauded the seven-member poll body for its decision. He had expressed optimism about the outcome of the case, saying even his opponents knew from the start that he was a natural-born Filipino.

''My fight (for the presidency) continues. And we assure the Filipino people of a clean, honest and good government,'' a visibly elated Lim said after the decision was handed down.

In a seven-page resolution, Comelec said Fornier failed to present enough facts to prove his allegations.

''We find the petitioner's view that respondent is not a natural-born Filipino . . . insufficient and inconclusive,'' it said.

Fornier had cited as basis for his petition the original copy of Lim's birth certificate found in the National Archives.

Not conclusive

The poll body said a birth certificate did not prove one's citizenship and therefore was not enough basis to reach a ''conclusive determination'' on the issue.

Last week, the poll body's second division dismissed Fornier's petition, saying the Supreme Court and not the Comelec was the proper venue for the case.

The Comelec, however, reversed the ruling of its second decision and assumed jurisdiction over the case.

''We rule that the Commission is vested with jurisdiction over the petition for the disqualification of respondent Alfredo Lim,'' the poll body said in its ruling, penned by Chair Bernardo Pardo.

LP support

Liberal Party leaders came in full force to the Comelec headquarters in Intramuros to await the decision, while hundreds of Lim's supporters milled outside it.

His confidence buoyed up by the ruling, Lim held two grand rallies yesterday--one at Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila and another at Fort Bonifacio in Makati.

Dirty trick

''I am very happy that the Comelec has lived up to its mandate to uphold the law,'' he said. ''The Comelec members deserve our commendation for not succumbing to pressures from those who hold power in government (and) who are moving heaven and earth to derail my candidacy.''

''By ruling in my favor, the Comelec did not only confirm that I am a Filipino citizen, but, more importantly, it also proclaimed that this was all just a dirty political trick invented by my opponents who became desperate because of my surge in the presidential race,'' he added.

LP president and senatorial candidate Raul Daza also hailed the decision.

He conceded that the citizenship issue had, for a while, stalled Lim's campaign but expressed gladness that truth prevailed in the end.

Daza condemned the filing of what he called a ''nuisance case'' and asked the Comelec to initiate punitive action against people filing cases without basis for the purpose of destroying a candidate, especially if he is a presidential candidate.

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