SC: A Victory for foundlings | Inquirer News

SC: A Victory for foundlings

By: - Reporter / @TarraINQ
/ 07:06 AM March 12, 2016

In allowing independent candidate Sen. Grace Poe to run for President, the Supreme Court upheld the rights of foundlings to natural-born citizenship.

“There is more than sufficient evidence that petitioner (Poe) has Filipino parents and is therefore a natural-born Filipino. Parenthetically, the burden of proof was on private respondents to show that petitioner is not a Filipino citizen,” said the full high court decision released Friday night.

In a 9-6 vote on Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that Poe “is a qualified candidate for President in the May 9 elections,” being both natural-born and a resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years.


The 47-page ruling penned by Associate Justice Jose Perez touched thoroughly on the issue of citizenship, settling once and for all the question of whether or not abandoned children should be considered natural-born citizens.


“As a matter of law, foundlings are, as a class, natural-born citizens. While the 1935 Constitution’s enumeration is silent as to foundlings, there is no restrictive language which would definitely exclude foundlings either,” said the ruling, in reference to the Constitution that covers Poe, who was born in 1968.

“On the contrary, all three Constitutions (1935, 1973 and 1987) guarantee the basic right to equal protection of the laws. All exhort the State to render social justice,” the court said.

The courted quoted statistics that Solicitor General Florin Hilbay had presented during oral arguments on the “statistical probability” that a child born between 1965 to 1975, the decade when Poe was born, is 99.83 percent likely to be Filipino, as 10.55 million Filipinos were born at that time as opposed to only 15,986 foreigners.

Typical Filipino features

It also noted that from 1960 to 1970, more than 99 percent of the population in the Philippines were Filipinos, and that 99 percent of the child-producing population during that period were Filipino citizens.

The court also noted Poe’s typically Filipino features, such as her “height, flat nasal bridge, straight black hair, almond shaped eyes, and an oval face.”


“Foundlings are likewise citizens under international law. Under the 1987 Constitution, an international law can become part of the sphere of domestic law either by transformation or incorporation,” said the court.

The court cited the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and its provisions granting everyone “the right to a nationality” and that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.”

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child requires state parties to protect children against statelessness. The 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) also provides for the right of every child “to acquire a nationality.”

Contrary to the Commission on Elections’ ruling that Poe would be six months short in residency on Election Day, the high court placed the date of reckoning on May 24, 2005, when Poe and her family returned to the Philippines from the United States.

Poe became a US citizen in 2001, but returned more frequently to the Philippines in 2004, when her adoptive father, actor Fernando Poe Jr., passed away.

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The Comelec had ruled that Poe only resumed her domicile in the Philippines in July 2006, when she reacquired her Philippine citizenship.

TAGS: Grace Poe, Supreme Court

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