Ruling on Poe amended Constitution, says justice
THE SUPREME Court justices who declared Sen. Grace Poe qualified to run for president inadvertently amended the Constitution by ruling that foundlings with unknown parents should be recognized as natural-born Filipinos.
In her 47-page separate dissenting opinion, Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro said that declaring foundlings like Poe natural-born citizens eligible for national elective posts was a piece of judicial legislation beyond the bounds of the high court.
“This amendment of the Constitution by the judicial opinion put forth by the seven justices is based mainly on extralegal grounds and a misreading of existing laws, which will have unimaginable grave and far-reaching dire consequences in our constitutional and legal system and national interest,” De Castro said.
Last week, 12 justices reversed the Commission on Elections decision disqualifying Poe and canceling her certificate of candidacy. Of the 12, seven declared that Poe should be considered a natural-born Filipino and thus qualified to run for president.
Aside from De Castro, the other dissenters—Justices Antonio Carpio, Arturo Brion, Mariano del Castillo and Estela Perlas Bernabe—filed separate opinions on the case.
De Castro agreed with the minority that allowing Poe to run would set a dangerous precedent as it would provide a way for non-Filipinos to abuse such a decision, which could threaten the national interest and security.
She also opined that the Filipino citizenship reacquired by Poe in 2006 was invalid because she had lied on her application form by stating that she was the offspring of Filipino parents, while the Bureau of Immigration order that approved the application was not signed by the justice secretary, as required by law.
Other than those whose fathers or mothers are Filipinos, Section 2, Article IV of the Constitution further defines natural-born citizens as those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship.
De Castro said a foundling like Poe “will not come within the definition of a natural-born citizen who by birth right, being the biological child of a Filipino father or mother, does not need to perform any act to acquire or perfect his/her citizenship.”
The justice also answered Poe’s plea that she should be considered as a viable and valid candidate for president in the next elections and that the people should not be deprived of their candidate.
“But the Constitution itself is the true embodiment of the supreme will of the people. It was the people’s decision to require in the Constitution, which they approved in a plebiscite, that their president be a natural-born Filipino citizen. The people did not choose to disenfranchise themselves but rather to disqualify those persons, who did not descend by blood from Filipino parents, from running in an election for the presidency,” she said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.