Legal experts divided on Poe’s eligibility for 2016 presidency
Legal experts are divided on whether Senator Grace Poe is qualified to run for President or Vice President in 2016 or not.
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) president Vicente Joyas said if what was presented by UNA interim resident and Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco is the genuine certificate of candidacy (COC) of Poe, “then she is not qualified to run for the said position.”
Under Article VII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution requires at least 10 years of Philippine residency, among others, for those running for President.
The same requirement is provided for those aspiring to run for Vice President under Section 3 of the same article.
In her certificate of candidacy for the 2013 polls, Poe said she has been a resident of the country for six years and six months.
Joyas said should Poe decide to run for either President or Vice President, “the issue of residency must be settled.”
But he clarified the IBP will not contest before the court if Poe decided to run because “we may not be the proper party to do that,” adding that the IBP is “just for the rule of law.”
Poe, an adopted daughter of the late National Artist for Film Fernando Poe Jr. and veteran actress Susan Roces went to the US in the late 1980s to study. She finished a political science degree in Boston College in 1991 and stayed in the US.
Based on earlier reports, she returned to the Philippines at the height of the controversy surrounding her father’s bid to run for President in 2004 against incumbent President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
On the other hand, two former law deans pointed out that the 10-year residency requirement is mandatory and explicitly stated in the Constitution.
Former University of the East law dean Amado Valdez meanwhile said Poe’s residency should not be downplayed because that 10-year rule is a “mandatory requirement.”
Election law expert Romulo Macalintal earlier said using as basis the same COC, Poe is more than qualified to run for either President or Vice President.
“If Poe was a resident of the Philippines for “6 years and 6 months” in October 2012, then the additional period from October 2012 till the May 2016 elections which is three years and 7 months, will give her a total of 10 years and 1 month residence in the Philippines,” Atty. Romulo Macalintal said.
“In other words, it is too early to speculate on what Poe will indicate in her COC for president or VP for the May 2016 elections. The statement she made in her COC for Senator in 2013 will even strengthen her claim of 10-year residency in the Philippines as explained above,” he added.
Macalintal added the COC filed by Poe when she ran for Senator in the 2013 elections cannot be the basis to disqualify her to run for the position of President or Vice-President in next year’s polls.
He compared Poe’s case to that of Leyte Representative Imelda Marcos when she ran for Representative of the first district of Leyte in the 1995 elections.
“In answer to the question ‘period of residence in the constituency immediately preceding the election’ she wrote ‘seven (7) months.’ But upon proof of her having been a domicile or resident of first district of Leyte since birth, the Supreme held that it is the fact of residence and not a statement in the COC which ought to be decisive in determining whether or not an individual has satisfied the constitution’s residency qualification,” Macalintal said.
But former University of the Philippines College of Law Dean Pacifico Agabin said Poe’s case is different from that of Marcos when she ran as Leyte Representative since Poe wrote it in her 2013 certificate of candidacy that “she had been a resident of the Philippines for six years and six months before the May 2013 polls.”
“That would mean she became a Philippine resident starting in November 2006, or nine years and six months ago,” Agabin said.
He added that the doctrine of animus revertendi or having the “intention to return” which was mentioned by Senator Franklin Drilon as basis in saying Poe is qualified to run for 2016 is but a “legal fiction.”
In response, Poe’s camp had said the senator returned to the country 11 years ago, in late 2004, following the death of her father, actor and then opposition standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr.
But according to the Commission on Elections’ Precinct Finder, Senator Poe registered as a voter on August 31, 2006, at the Sta. Lucia Elementary School in San Juan. She is a voter at Precinct 0349A.
Poe’s citizenship was also earlier put in question, especially after it was revealed she has both a US and a Philippine passport.
The lawmaker however explained that she had already renounced her US citizenship even before she became chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board in 2010. TVJ
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