Losing senatorial bet files petition to oust Grace Poe
A resident of Makati City and a two-time losing senatorial bet has filed a petition to unseat Senator Grace Poe for ineligibility because she is a foundling and not a natural-born Filipino.
Rizalito David, who ran and lost in the 2010 and 2013 elections under Ang Kapatiran party, filed a quo warranto petition against Poe before the Senate Electoral Tribunal on Thursday.
He had wanted to file the petition on Wednesday but he stepped back because had no P50,000 to pay the filing fee. A quo warranto petition is a challenge to someone’s right to hold a certain office or position.
Now, no one is stopping David, a resident of Barangay East Rembo, Makati City, from moving to unseat Poe, who has emerged as the most popular bet for the presidential and vice presidential races in the 2016 elections according to the latest opinion polls.
According to David’s quo warranto petition, Poe is ineligible to remain in the Senate because she is foundling, or a “stateless” being.
This means Poe is not a “natural-born citizen,” as required for in the Constitution for senators.
Poe was abandoned in a church in Jaro, Iloilo province before she was adopted by the late action star Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) and actress Susan Roces.
“Being a foundling, her parents are not known and cannot be presumed as Filipino citizens, hence she cannot claim or acquire the status of a natural-born citizen,” David said.
David in his petition said the 1987 Constitution defines a natural-born citizen as “those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship.”
David said Poe became an American citizen in 2001 and reacquired her Filipino citizenship 2006 following the death of her father FPJ, known as the King of Philippine movies.
David added that no law in the Philippines gives a natural-born status to a foundling.
He also said Poe’s adoption by FPJ and Susan Roces does not give Poe a Filipino citizen stature.
“It should be emphasized that (Poe) was a foundling when she was adopted She had no known biological parents, having been allegedly found in a church in Jaro, Iloilo, and was allegedly taken by a rich woman and later on ended up in the hands of the Poe couple,” David said.
“In any case, even if it were to be conceded that (Poe) became a Filipino through her adoption, sufficient reasons support the view that the adoption did not confer upon her the status of a ‘natural-born’ Filipino citizen. This is due to the present law on citizenship in the Philippines on blood relation (jus sanguinis) and that is the only primary basis of acquiring citizenship by birth,” David added.
On claims that the Philippines is a signatory of the United Nations 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, which considers a foundling as a citizen of the country he or she was found in, David said this does not apply to Poe who was born in 1968 when the Convention was not yet in effect.
David said the UN Convention only took effect in 1975.
David also said a Department of Justice 2012 Circular on refugees and stateless status determination procedure does not contain provisions on the citizenship of stateless persons.
Among the documents in the annexes used as evidence are Poe’s certificate of candidacy (where she wrote that she has stayed in the country for six years before the May 2013 elections); Poe’s petition for retention and reacquisition of Philippine citizenship executed in 2006; and her travel records from 1999 to 2015 (of which Poe used her American passport from 2002 to 2009).
Plot to oust Poe?
David has admitted to coordinating with former Negros Oriental Representative Jacinto Paras in the move to unseat Poe from the Senate. Paras was the one who informed reporters about David’s filing.
David said he and Paras had been talking and exchanging documents in their bid to unseat Poe
Paras, who supported FPJ in the 2004 presidential race, had bragged in a press conference that he would be the first to file a disqualification case against Poe should she decide to run for a higher post in 2016, citing the residency and citizenship issues earlier raised against her by some officials of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
Paras has also said Senator Poe seems “ambitious” in seeking for higher office, unlike FPJ who was more reluctant when he joined and lost the 2004 presidential race amid alleged electoral fraud.
Malacañang has denied backing the bid to oust the senator, who President Benigno Aquino III and Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II have invited to be the ruling coalition’s vice presidential bet.
Not the first time
This was not the first time that issues on her residency and being a foundling have been raised against Poe.
Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco, UNA president, had earlier raised the issue of residency against Poe.
In a press conference last June, Tiangco said Poe could not be a resident of the Philippines in time for the 2016 elections.
The Constitution requires presidential and vice presidential bets to be a resident for 10 years prior to the elections.
Tiangco said Poe’s certificate of candidacy (COC) for senator in 2013 shows her residency in the country is at six years and six months prior to the May 2013 elections.
By May 2016, Poe would have stayed in the country for nine years and six months, still short of the 10-year residency requirement in the Constitution, Tiangco added.
UNA Secretary General JV Bautista had also raised Poe’s ineligibility to run because she is a foundling and not a natural born citizen.
Tiangco has apologized for causing a strain in the relationship of Poe with the family of Vice President Jejomar Binay with his pronouncements.
Some solons, however, had taken the cudgels for Poe before, saying a foundling cannot be considered stateless.
“In the case of a foundling, it’s easy to say, ‘How do we know?’ But one rule of thumb is you cannot be a person who does not have a citizenship. You cannot be stateless. There are international conventions to that effect,” House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora has said in an earlier press conference.
He noted that Poe “was found practically within hours of being born.”
“How can you say she was a citizen of another country? The [baby was found still with its mother’s blood]. How can a foundling be stateless? What specific country is that? Clearly, the Philippines. If she was not born here, how could she have arrived here?” Zamora asked.
For her part, Poe said the COC stated “residence in the Philippines before May 2013,” and did not say “by May 13, or on May 2013.”
She said she only went back to the Philippines in 2005 or in the aftermath of the death of her father FPJ. She said she meant her physical presence in the country was only six years at the time of the filing of COC. IDL
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