Poe is naturalized Filipino citizen, says Justice Carpio at SET debate
SENATOR Grace Poe is a naturalized Filipino citizen, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, chairman of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), said during Monday’s oral argument.
Poe’s citizenship has been questioned before the SET by Rizalito David who said that she was a foundling whose parents were not known, thus she could not be considered a natural born Filipino.
“Foundling has no parentage,” Atty. Manuelito Luna, lawyer for petitioner David, said adding that even if Poe has garnered over 20-million votes during last election, it cannot follow the will of the people.
“We have to uphold the Constitution,” he said.
Under the 1935 Constitution which applies to Poe, Carpio said Article 4, Section 1 (5) of the Constitution should apply.
Section 1 (5) considers “those who are naturalized in accordance with law” as citizens of the Philippines.
Carpio said international law provides that every human being has a right to acquire nationality and every State must avoid statelessness.
“So, a foundling has a right to acquire nationality,” Carpio said.
However, he pointed out that Poe, a foundling, cannot be natural born because it would violate the Constitution.
“So if there is a customary international law which says a foundling shall become a natural born citizen where a country it was found shall not apply to our country because it will be contrary to the Constitution,” Carpio said.
“So, we have solved the problem counsel? You will agree with me that Senator Poe at least [is] a citizen of the Philippines,” Carpio said.
Carpio’s stance is consistent with his 2004 dissenting opinion where he voted against the Filipino citizenship of the late action king Fernand Poe Jr., adoptive father of the Senator Poe.
Carpio, in his dissenting opinion, said it is the duty of the one running for president to prove that he or she met the qualifications set under the 1987 Constitution and that he or she must be a natural born citizen of the Philippines.
Last Wednesday, Poe has already declared she will run for President.
During the preliminary conference before the SET, Poe said the proceedings appeared to be a replay of the case involving her father.
Poe’s lawyer, Alex Poblador, insisted that the presumption of law applies in the case of Poe.
“The generally acceptable principles of international law, treaties and conventions show that a foundling found in the Philippines is presumed to have Filipino biological parents making him or her a natural born Filipino citizen,” Poblador said.
However, Associate Justice Arturo Brion, another SET member said such claim is baseless.
“Her parents are not known. So, if her parents are not known then she must now prove that she is a natural born citizen,” Brion said.
Both Brion and another member Teresita Leonardo de Castro shared Carpio’s view that to be natural-born, there has to be blood relation. Tetch Torres-Tupas
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