Debate continues to rage on SC ruling on Poe
AS THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) and the private respondents file their motions for reconsideration of the Supreme Court ruling that declared Sen. Grace Poe eligible to run for President, several legal experts said they hoped the majority justices would change their minds about giving “privileged status” to foundlings and Filipinos who once swore allegiance to a foreign country.
Litigation lawyer Raymond Fortun and San Beda Alabang College of Law professor Bruce Rivera said that while they respect the outcome of the case in the high court, they do not necessarily agree with the ruling.
Last week, the Supreme Court, with a vote of 9 to 6, reversed the two Comelec rulings canceling the certificate of candidacy of Poe over material misrepresentation of her status as natural-born Filipino and residency eligibility.
Rivera, in a six-minute video message posted March 9 on Facebook that has gone viral online, criticized the Supreme Court for allowing Poe to run for President.
“If we will allow a future leader who at some point in her life turned her back on her being a Filipino, that’s something I cannot accept. That’s why it hurts me most because the Supreme Court made being a Filipino citizen worthless. It’s already useless to be a Filipino and to remain a Filipino because you love the Philippines,” Rivera said.
He said he has nothing against Filipinos becoming naturalized citizens of other countries, but “the President we need should not only be qualified due to his deeds but also qualified in his heart as a Filipino.”
In the video, Rivera said he teaches subjects on citizenship, constitutional law, and public international law, which tackles citizenship, statelessness and dual allegiance.
“To all of us lawyers, we know the basic principles of citizenship. As a lawyer, I can criticize the Supreme Court without being disrespectful. I’m sorry for being emotional but I am just hurt,” he said.
Rivera’s video has been viewed on Facebook 1.4 million times, shared more than 27,000 times and commented on by more by 32,000 users.
Fortun said the high court’s decision seemed to have elevated foundlings to a “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 on his Facebook account.
“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 said.
Fortun, who wrote a lengthy “open letter” to Poe on Facebook urging her to concede that she failed to meet the requirements for presidential candidates, refused to comment further on the issue, saying he has yet to go over the 10 concurring and dissenting opinions.
In his dissenting opinion, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said the high tribunal had failed to reach a majority on the citizenship issue because only 7 of the 15 magistrates voted in favor of Poe, five against her, and three voted not to settle the citizenship issue at this time.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, however, insisted in her own concurring opinion that the three justices who refused to have the citizenship issue settled should not be included in getting the majority, akin to abstention. This would mean, she said, that the majority would only be seven out of 12 votes.
The voting of the justices is expected to be clarified when they respond to the motions for reconsideration filed by the Comelec and the four petitioners who sought Poe’s disqualification: former Sen. Francisco Tatad, lawyer Estrella Elamparo, former law dean Amado Valdez and political science professor Antonio Contreras.
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