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Grace Poe vs COMELEC

8, 2016)

(Case Digest: GR 221697, GR 221698-700 March

In her COC for presidency for the May 2016 elections, Grace Poe
declared that she is a natural-born citizen and that her residence in
the Philippines up to the day before 9 May 2016 would be 10 years and
11 months counted from 24 May 2005.
May 24, 2005 was the day she came to the Philippines after deciding to
stay in the PH for good. Before that however, and even afterwards,
she has been going to and fro between US and Philippines. She was
born in 1968, found as newborn infant in Iloilo, and was legally
adopted. She immigrated to the US in 1991 and was naturalized as
American citizen in 2001. On July 18, 2006, the BI granted her
petition declaring that she had reacquired her Filipino citizenship
under RA 9225. She registered as a voter and obtained a new
Philippine passport. In 2010, before assuming her post as an
appointed chairperson of the MTRCB, she renounced her American
citizenship to satisfy the RA 9225 requirement . From then on, she
stopped using her American passport.
Petitions were filed before the COMELEC to deny or cancel her
candidacy on the ground particularly, among others, that she cannot be
considered a natural-born Filipino citizen since she cannot prove that
her biological parents or either of them were Filipinos. The COMELEC
en banc cancelled her candidacy on the ground that she is in want of
citizenship and residence requirements, and that she committed
material misrepresentations in her COC.
On certiorari, the SC reversed the ruling and held (9-6 votes) that
Poe is qualified as a candidate for Presidency. Three justices,
however, abstained to vote on the natural-born citizenship issue.
Issue 1: W/N the COMELEC has jurisdiction to rule on the issue of
qualifications of candidates
Held: No. Article IX-C, Sec 2 of the Constitution provides for the
powers and functions of the COMELEC, and deciding on the
qualifications or lack thereof of a candidate is not one among them.
In contrast, the Constitution provides that only the SET and HRET
tribunals have sole jurisdiction over the election contests, returns,
and qualifications of their respective members, whereas over the
President and Vice President, only the SC en banc has sole
jurisdiction. As for the qualifications of candidates for such

positions, the Constitution is silent. There is simply no authorized

proceeding in determining the ineligibility of candidates before
elections. Such lack of provision cannot be supplied by a mere rule,
and for the COMELEC to assimilate grounds for ineligibility into
grounds for disqualification in Rule 25 in its rules of procedures
would be contrary to the intent of the Constitution.
Hence, the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion when it decided
on the qualification issue of Grace as a candidate in the same case
for cancellation of her COC.
Issue 2:

W/N Grace Poe-Llamanzares is a natural-born Filipino

Held: Yes, Grace Poe might be and is considerably a natural-born

Filipino. For that, she satisfies one of the constitutional
requirements that only natural-born Filipinos may run for presidency.
First, there is a high probability that Grace Poes parents are
Filipinos. Her physical features are typical of Filipinos. The fact
that she was abandoned as an infant in a municipality where the
population of the Philippines is overwhelmingly Filipinos such that
there would be more than 99% chance that a child born in such province
is a Filipino is also a circumstantial evidence of her parents
nationality. That probability and the evidence on which it is based
are admissible under Rule 128, Section 4 of the Revised Rules on
Evidence. To assume otherwise is to accept the absurd, if not the
virtually impossible, as the norm.
Second, by votes of 7-5, the SC pronounced that foundlings are as a
class, natural-born citizens. This is based on the finding that the
deliberations of the 1934 Constitutional Convention show that the
framers intended foundlings to be covered by the enumeration. While
the 1935 Constitutions enumeration is silent as to foundlings, there
is no restrictive language which would definitely exclude foundlings
either. Because of silence and ambiguity in the enumeration with
respect to foundlings, the SC felt the need to examine the intent of
the framers.
Third, that foundlings are automatically conferred with natural-born
citizenship is supported by treaties and the general principles of
international law. Although the Philippines is not a signatory to
some of these treaties, it adheres to the customary rule to presume
foundlings as having born of the country in which the foundling is
Issue 3:

W/N Grace Poe satisfies the 10-year residency requirement

Held: Yes. Grace Poe satisfied the requirements of animus manendi

coupled with animus revertendi in acquiring a new domicile.
Grace Poes domicile had been timely changed as of May 24, 2005, and
not on July 18, 2006 when her application under RA 9225 was approved
by the BI. COMELECs reliance on cases which decree that an aliens
stay in the country cannot be counted unless she acquires a permanent
resident visa or reacquires her Filipino citizenship is without
merit. Such cases are different from the circumstances in this case,
in which Grace Poe presented an overwhelming evidence of her actual
stay and intent to abandon permanently her domicile in the US.
Coupled with her eventual application to reacquire Philippine
citizenship and her familys actual continuous stay in the Philippines
over the years, it is clear that when Grace Poe returned on May 24,
2005, it was for good.
Issue 4: W/N the Grace Poes candidacy should be denied or cancelled
for committing material misrepresentations in her COC
Held: No. The COMELEC cannot cancel her COC on the ground that she
misrepresented facts as to her citizenship and residency because such
facts refer to grounds for ineligibility in which the COMELEC has no
jurisdiction to decide upon. Only when there is a prior authority
finding that a candidate is suffering from a disqualification provided
by law or the Constitution that the COMELEC may deny due course or
cancel her candidacy on ground of false representations regarding her
In this case, by authority of the Supreme Court Grace Poe is now
pronounced qualified as a candidate for the presidency. Hence, there
cannot be any false representations in her COC regarding her
citizenship and residency.