Grace Poe vs COMELEC(Case Digest: GR 221697, GR 221698-700 March 8, 2016

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
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 (Read Dissent)
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 Poe­Llamanzares is a natural­born Filipino citizen (Read Dissent)
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 Poe’s 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 7­5, the SC pronounced that foundlings are as a class, natural­born 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 
Constitution’s 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 found.
Issue 3: W/N Grace Poe satisfies the 10­year residency requirement

Yes. Grace Poe satisfied the requirements of animus manendi coupled with
animus revertendi in acquiring a new domicile.
Grace Poe’s 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.
COMELEC’s reliance on cases which decree that an alien’s 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 family’s 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 Poe’s candidacy should be denied or cancelled for committing material 
misrepresentations in her COC
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 qualifications.
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. ##