Escudero on Grace Poe case: Burden of proof on accuser | Inquirer News

Escudero on Grace Poe case: Burden of proof on accuser

/ 03:25 AM September 23, 2015

Becoming a naturalized Filipino citizen requires a court decree or an act of Congress. And since Sen. Grace Poe did not need either of the two to become a Filipino, she could be nothing else but a natural-born citizen, her running mate, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, said on Tuesday.

“If there are only two citizens in the Philippines—naturalized or natural-born—if you’re not naturalized, perforce you should be natural-born,” Escudero said at a forum in Quezon City.

Escudero disagreed with the statement of Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio that Poe, a foundling, could be considered a Filipino with a naturalized status and must show blood relations to Filipino parents to be considered a natural-born Filipino.


Escudero disagreed with Carpio’s statement that Poe must know who her parents are to determine her citizenship, otherwise she would just be considered naturalized. A foundling by definition does not know her parents’ identity, he said.


“If Senator Poe knows who her parents are, she would no longer be considered a foundling, but an abandoned child. And these have two very different and technical meanings. A foundling by its very nature does not know who her real parents are,” he said.

Carpio heads the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) handling the case seeking to disqualify Poe from the Senate because she is not a natural-born citizen, an argument that stemmed from her being a foundling.

The case would affect her candidacy for the presidency because if it is declared that she is not a natural-born Filipino, she would be disqualified to run for public office.

Escudero, a lawyer, also said there is a principle in law that he who makes an allegation must prove the same. Hence, it falls on the shoulders of Rizalito David—who filed the disqualification case—to back up his assertions against Poe, he said.

“Why would we let a child abandoned in a church bear the responsibility of proving she is a Filipino and who her parents are?” he said at a forum.

To be brought to SC


But whatever the decision of the SET on Poe’s disqualification case, the issue is expected to be brought up to the Supreme Court, which would be the final arbiter on the citizenship issue, according to Senate President Franklin Drilon.

“Any decision to be handed down by the Senate Electoral Tribunal, whether for or against Senator Poe, will eventually be brought to the Supreme Court,” said Drilon, a former justice secretary.

Hence, it was crucial that the SET resolve the case against Poe as soon as possible, so there would be enough time for the Supreme Court to resolve the matter before the election period kicks off, he said.

Under the Constitution, natural-born Filipinos are those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their citizenship, according to Escudero.

DNA test confirmatory

As a child, Poe did not need to do anything to become a Filipino. For instance, she did not need a court order or a Congress issuance conferring on her Filipino citizenship to be issued a Philippine passport, he said.

Without any evidence from David that Poe’s parents were of any other nationality but Filipino, the presumption in convention and international law would apply to Poe, meaning she is a citizen of the country where she was found, he said.

Constitutional Convention

Escudero further said the 1935 Constitution—which was prevailing when Poe was born—also showed the framers’ intent to consider a foundling a natural-born citizen.

He said it was specifically asked if a foundling was a natural-born citizen, and the delegate defending the provision answered in the affirmative.

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The DNA test that Poe has undergone with possible relatives would only be “confirmatory,” Escudero said. But with or without it, the fact remains that Poe is a natural-born citizen, he said.

TAGS: citizenship, Elections, foundling, Grace Poe, Politics

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