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‘SC decision on Poe case elevated foundlings as super class of citizens’

/ 09:47 PM March 16, 2016

SOME lawyers are still lamenting the Supreme Court’s decision declaring Senator Grace Poe qualified to run for president.

The high court, voting 9-6. reversed the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to cancel her certificate of candidacy (COC).

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In its ruling, the high court, through Associate Justice Jose Perez, said Poe is presumed to be a natural-born Filipino based on circumstances such as physical appearance as well as statistical probability.

The high court agreed with the Office of the Solicitor General’s assertion that Poe is probably natural-born based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showing that more than 99 percent of babies born in the 1960s and 1970s, both in Iloilo and the entire Philippines, were natural-born.

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The high court also said Poe is probably natural-born because she was found at a Catholic church in Iloilo and possesses “typical Filipino features such as height, flat nasal bridge, straight black hair, almond shaped eyes, and an oval face.”

But litigation lawyer Raymond Fortun, in his Facebook post Wednesday, said the decision seemed to have elevated foundlings as “super class of citizens.”

“One of the cornerstone principles of our country’s Rules of Evidence is ‘he who alleges has the burden of proving it’,” Fortun said in his post.

“Did we just throw this out the window? Did we just create a super class of citizens composed of foundlings, who are not subject to basic rules on Evidence? Just asking,” he added.

Meanwhile, UP Law Professor and election lawyer Edgardo Carlo Vistan II said in relying on “good faith” in deciding the case of Poe will leave the real issues on eligibility hanging.

“By ‘good faith’ argument, I mean (it is) that view where it is said that Senator Poe may not have met the qualifications, but she believed in good faith that she is qualified. So, she committed no material misrepresentation and her Certificate of Candidacy should not be cancelled. If this is the approach that would be adopted, the question of Senator Poe’s eligibility may still be questioned later on,” Vistan said.

He said motions for reconsideration are expected to be filed.

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“The best scenario for all of us is that all motions for reconsideration be resolved before Election Day so that there will be no doubt about the presidential candidates the people can choose from,” Vistan added.

On the other hand, another San Beda College of Law Professor, Atty. Bruce Rivera, in his video  message posted publicly in his Facebook that went viral, said he has nothing against Filipinos becoming naturalized citizens of other countries, but added: “Ang kailangan nating presidente ay hindi lang qualified sa kanyang gawa kundi qualified sa kanyang puso bilang Pilipino.”

“Kung hahayaan natin na mamuno na at some point in her life ay tinalikuran niya ang maging isang Pilipino, iyon po ay ‘di ko matatanggap. Iyon po ay ‘di ko kayang lunukin. Iyon po ang ikinakasama ng loob ko sa ating Supreme Court ngayon dahil ginawa niyong basura iyong pagiging Pilipino. Ginawa niyong walang bisa o walang silbi ang maging isang Pilipino, manatiling maging isang Pilipino dahil mahal mo ang Pilipinas,” Rivera said.

In his video, Rivera said he teaches Persons and Natural Relations subject that touches on citizenship, Constitutional Law as well as Public International Law that all tackle citizenship, statelessness and dual allegiance.

“Kahit papaano, alam ko po iyong sinasabi ko. Hindi ko po sinasabing ako ang pinakamagaling dahil wala naman talagang pinakamagaling,” Rivera said.

“Pero to all of us lawyers, alam natin ang basic principles of citizenship,” he added in his video that has already been viewed almost 1.5 million times, shared on FB 27,000 times, and with 31,000 FB users reacting to it.

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TAGS: Elections 2016, Foundlings, Grace Poe, Nation, news, Supreme Court
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