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Grace Poe a natural-born Filipino, SC rules

/ 05:30 AM September 21, 2016
Grace Poe

Senator Grace Poe. INQUIRER PHOTO / RICHARD A. REYES

VOTING 9-3, the Supreme Court en banc has upheld the decision of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) declaring Sen. Grace Poe as a natural-born Filipino citizen qualified to run for public office.

The high court dismissed a petition for certiorari filed by petitioner Rizalito David that questioned two resolutions issued by SET in November and December of 2015.

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“The (Supreme) Court sustained the SET majority which had ruled that respondent Poe was a natural-born citizen,” said the decision, read by SC spokesperson Theodore Te at a press briefing on Tuesday.

“The Court relied on the presumption that all foundlings found in the Philippines are born to at least either a Filipino father or a Filipino mother (and are thus, natural born, unless there is substantial proof otherwise),” the decision read.

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Senator Poe ran and lost in the May 2016 presidential elections. Questions on her citizenship had hounded her during the campaign.

“Concluding that foundlings are not natural-born Filipino citizens is tantamount to telling our foundling citizens that they can never be of service to the country in the highest possible capacities,” the decision read, according to Te.

Such exclusion of citizenship also deprives these people access to certain professions and state scholarships,  while at the same time practically classifying them as an inferior human beings, it said.

“If that is not discrimination, we do not know what is,” it added.

Foundling’s misfortune

The high court also said that children with unknown biological parents are no different with those foundlings and children with known Filipino parents.

“A foundling’s misfortune in failing to identify the parents who abandoned them cannot be the foundation of a rule that reduces them to statelessness, or, at best, as inferior, second-class citizens who are not entitled to as much benefits and protection from the state as those who know their parents,” the decision said.

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It added that “sustaining this classification was not only inequitable but also dehumanizing as it condemned those who, from the very beginning of their lives, were abandoned to a life of desolation and deprivation.”

The high court also said that Poe, a natural-born Filipino citizen, reacquired natural-born Filipino citizenship after she complied with the procedures of Republic Act No. 9225 on reacquiring Filipino citizenship following her naturalization as a citizen of the United States.

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TAGS: Grace Poe, Nation, news, Senate Electoral Tribunal, Supreme Court
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