Poe committed misrepresentation, Comelec tells SC
THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) defended before the Supreme Court its decision ordering the cancellation of the certificate of candidacy (COC) for president of Senator Grace Poe.
In the third Supreme Court oral argument, Comelec Commissioner Rowena Amelia Guanzon said the Comelec has the mandate of the Constitution to cancel Poe’s COC.
“There was no grave abuse of discretion,” she said.
Comelec Commissioner Arthur Lim, on the other hand, added that Comelec is not precluded from determining Poe’s citizenship.
“We did not usurp PET’s (Presidential Electoral Tribunal) power. Comelec has express power to determine material misrepresentation in the COC and deny it in due course before the elections,” he said.
Lim insisted that Poe is not qualified to run for President whose citizenship is still in question.
Poe, being a foundling, does not know the identity of her biological parents. She was found abandoned at a church in Iloilo and later adopted by celebrity couple Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces.
“She has no bloodline to a Filipino parent being a foundling,” he said adding that Poe also renounced her Filipino citizenship when she became a naturalized citizen of the United States.
He said Poe may have reacquired her Filipino citizenship but she cannot be considered natural born.
But Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno cautioned Lim on the possible repercussions if the high court would issue a ruling against foundlings.
Sereno said a ruling against foundlings could mean barring them from holding public office while those who are already holding public offices would be removed.
“The moment we say foundlings are not naturalized or that they are stateless, repercussions will be across the entire sector,” Sereno said.
Lim said the high court should confine its rulings on the case of Poe.
“Her claim she is born of Filipino parent is therefore a lie, [applies] only to her?” Sereno asked.
“I will not call it a lie, that is uncharitable,” Lim said to which Sereno countered “but that is a misrepresentation, she lied about her belief.”
“We did not say that [she lied], the law said that,” Lim said.
The Chief Justice said it would be unsettling should the Supreme Court degrade an entire class of people— and this will be known in the whole world.
“Why not let things be the way they are, not deprive them of their rights…It will be upsetting that a court, a court of justice is going to degrade an entire class of people,” Sereno said.
Sereno said only eight of 189 countries use blood relationship or “jus sanguinis” as the sole basis for determining citizenship. And out of these 189 countries, 166 consider foundlings as their citizens.
“Why should we go to an extreme interpretation that may be perceived to be cruel and unjust,” Sereno asked.
Associate Justice Jose Perez asked Lim what is their basis in saying that Poe made a false representation when she is a foundling and her biological parents were unknown.
Lim said it is their duty to determine the qualifications of each and every candidate as mandated by the Constitution.
“We have to do our duty. [But] We will not claim we are correct that is why we are here. [Although] we believe in our decision and we honestly believe that the honorable court will sustain our position,” he said.
The high court’s oral argument will resume next week.
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