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MANILA, Philippines After the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) voted 5-4 to dismiss

the disqualification case against Grace Poe, critics were concerned that the majority
all of them senators voted based on politics and not based on Philippine laws.
The main question in Poe's citizenship issue is if the senator, who is now eyeing the
presidency in the 2016 elections, is a natural-born Filipino. (READ: After close call at
SET, emotional Grace Poe turns to prayer)
Her accuser, Rizalito David, argued that since she is a foundling, there is a
possibility that she is not a natural-born citizen. Only natural-born citizens can be
elected as president, vice president, senator, and congressman, according to the
Poe's camp has insisted that foundlings are considered natural-born citizens under
applicable international laws, including treaties and generally accepted principles of
international law.
The tribunal eventually ruled in favor of Poe, although the decision is not yet final:
"We rule that Respondent is a natural-born citizen under the 1935 Constitution and
continue to be a natural-born citizen as defined under the 1987 Constitution, as she
is a 'citizen of the Philippines from birth, without having to perform any act to
acquire or perfect [her] Philippine citizenship," the SET's main decision read.
All 3 Supreme Court justices sitting on the SET voted to disqualify her.
The majority in the tribunal said Poe, who was naturalized as a citizen of the United
States in 2001, also validly reacquired her natural-born Filipino citizenship after
taking her Oath of Allegiance to the Philippines in 2006.
She renounced her US citizenship in 2010 as required by Republic Act (RA) 9225 or
the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003.
The voting was a close call that divided the lawmakers from those in the judiciary.
What was the basis of the majority in upholding Poe's status as a natural-born
Filipino, and why did all the Supreme Court justices vote to disqualify her?
(DOCUMENT: SET decision on disqualification case vs Grace Poe)
As of Sunday, November 22, only 7 members of the tribunal have submitted their
separate opinions to the SET. Senator Nancy Binay did not submit an opinion,
whileSenator Pia Cayetano's opinion is not yet available on the SET website.
(DOCUMENTS:SET members' opinions on Poe case)
I. The intention of the framers of the 1935 Constitution
Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino IV and Cynthia Villar said it was not the intention of
the framers of the 1935 Constitution to "exclude" and "discriminate against"
foundlings when it comes to a natural-born citizenship.
"As correctly pointed out by the majority, there was a recognition that children or
people born in a country of unknown parents are citizen of this nation and the only
reason that there was no specific reference to foundlings in the 1935 Constitution
was that foundlings are few and far in between so that it is not necessary to include
a provision on the subject exclusively," Aquino said in his separate opinion. Villar
also argued the same.

II. Foundlings in the Philippines should be accorded 'social justice'

Two senators also cited social justice in Poe's case. Aquino said the State itself, as
dictated by social justice, should be the first to recognize and ensure that foundlings
like Poe "are able to enjoy each and every right accorded to them." (READ: Grace
Poe's fight shows state of foundlings in PH lawyer)
"There lies a presumption that for those who have less in life, we should afford them
the most basic right. Logic dictates that foundlings are not naturalized nor stateless
but natural-born citizen of the Philippines," he added.
On the rights of a child to a nationality, Aquino cited the same international
conventions used by Poe's camp: the Convention of the Rights of the Children (CRC)
and the Hague Convention of 1930. Of the two, the Philippines is signatory only to
the CRC.
Senator Vicente Sotto III, meanwhile, said even a foundling "the abandoned child
on our doorstep" is also "the least of our brethren."
"In any case, it is not the fault of foundlings that their parents abandoned them. The
principle of social justice applies in cases of this nature," he added.
III. SET decision should consider judgment of Filipino voters
Sotto and fellow senator Loren Legarda argued that the citizenship issue against Poe
only came up when she began leading the presidential surveys.
Still, they believe the electorate should be taken into consideration in Poe's case,
especially since "the composition of the SET] is predominantly political," with 6
senators in the tribunal outnumbering the 3 justices.
"The Philippine Constitution did not demand a strictly legal viewpoint in deciding
disqualification cases against senators. The fact that six Senators, elected by the
whole country, form part of the Senate Electoral Tribunal would suggest that the
judgment of the whole Filipino nation must be taken into consideration also," Sotto
Legarda, meanwhile, cited a 1996 case Frivaldo vs Commission on Elections and
Raul Lee which she thinks is applicable also in Poe's case.
She said the major lesson from the 1996 case is when there is doubt in interpreting
constitutional and legal provisions involving popular sovereignty, it is best to
interpret "in a manner that enables our electorate to elect freely their chosen
"I believe that by denying Senator Poe's natural-born citizenship, we would be
reversing the will of over 20 million votes. And in the process, we would also be
effectively denying our entire electorate the opportunity to select their President
freely and democratically," she added.
IV. The burden to prove that Poe is not a natural-born Filipino is on the
For Aquino and Villar, David as petitioner failed to present proof that Poe is not a
natural-born Filipino.
"Anybody who claims that she is not a natural-born citizen of the Philippines must
establish that fact with adequate proof and not merely rely on her being a
foundling," Villar said.
Until David presents evidence that Poe's parents are not Filipino, Aquino said the
presumption of regularity should prevail.
I. No Philippine law automatically grants citizenship to a foundling at birth
SET chair and Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, in his separate opinion,
argued that no law automatically grants citizenship to foundlings born in the
"Even if there were, such a law would only result in the foundling being a
naturalized Filipino citizen, not a natural-born Filipino citizen," Carpio said.
Under the 1935 Constitution (the charter that was in effect when Poe was
born),Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro said Poe's camp cannot argue
natural-born citizenship at birth by virtue of a disputable presumption because this
will mean an inferior status for children whose mothers are citizens of the

Philippines. The child whose mother is a Philippine citizen can only choose for
herself Philippine citizenship once she reaches the age of 21, based on the 1935
Both de Castro and Associate Justice Arturo Brion said there is nothing in the 1935
Constitution that grants citizenship to foundlings. Following this argument, then,
they noted that Poe could not have reacquired natural-born citizenship under RA
Carpio said foundlings like Poe still have to prove his or her status as a foundling
before they can acquire Philippine citizenship as naturalized, not natural-born.
When it comes to qualifications for public office, De Castro said natural-born
citizenship "must be an established physical fact and not a possibility qualification
which can later be proven true or untrue."
II. Philippine citizenship is not automatically granted under international conventions
cited by Poe's camp
Carpio and de Castro both believe that none of the conventions used by Poe to
prove her natural-born status automatically grant Philippine citizenship to a
foundling at birth.
To begin with, Carpio noted that the Philippines only acceded or ratified 3 of the 5
international conventions: the CRC, the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights, and the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights
De Castro said these conventions will only apply for a State by way of a national law
or a legislative enactment, and even then, the nature of the citizenship is by
"There must be a law by which citizenship can be acquired. By no means can this
citizenship be considered that of a natural-born character under the principle of jus
sanguinis in the Philippine Constitution."
Brion agreed: "The Philippines' treaty obligations do not grant Philippine citizenship
outright to foundlings. These obligations simply require the country to recognize a
foundling's right to acquire Philippines citizenship."
De Castro also said Poe "cannot seek refuge" under provisions of an international
convention "which runs counter to the provision of the Constitution when
determining the citizenship of a person, that is, following jus sanguinis or "by
III. Election victory 'not a magic formula to bypass eligibility requirements'
De Castro said that even if Poe topped the 2013 senatorial elections, her "election
victory" cannot be "used as a magic formula to bypass eligibility requirements."
"This Tribunal is very much aware that the respondent was voted into office by an
overwhelming number of votes, close to 20 million. However, it is settled doctrine in
jurisprudence that an election victory cannot override constitutional and statutory
provisions on the qualifications and disqualifications of elected officials," she noted.

Carpio also refused to rule based only on "sentimental plea" which he thinks
"conveniently forgets" that the Constitution reserves national posts such as a
senatorial seat "exclusively to natural-born Filipino citizens" a provision which he
said must be complied with strictly.
After all, he said the members of the tribunal were sworn to uphold and defend the
Constitution by applying its "clear letter and intent."
"Pointing to the purportedly sad plight of foundlings if found not to be natural-born
Filipino citizens, particularly their disqualification from being elected to high public
office and appointed to high government positions, appeals plainly to human
emotions," Carpio said.
IV. Burden of proof is on Poe's camp
For Carpio, Poe failed to discharge her burden to prove that she is a natural-born
Filipino. This runs counter to what Poe's camp believes: that the burden of proof is
on the petitioner.
"There is no legal presumption in favor of Philippine citizenship, whether naturalborn or naturalized. Citizenship must be established as a matter of fact and any
doubt is resolved against the person claiming Philippine citizenship," he said.
He, however, reiterated what was mentioned during the oral arguments: that any
decision based on the absence of proof of blood relation "never becomes final."
Even SET's decision is not yet final. David's camp filed a motion for
reconsideration on Monday, November 23. Whatever the final decision may be, the
case is still expected to eventually reach the SC.

MANILA, Philippines The Supreme Court (SC) en banc confirmed the temporary
restraining orders (TROs) issued by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in December
2015, provisionally stopping the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from cancelling
Senator Grace Poe's certificate of candidacy (COC) for president.
The en banc on Tuesday, January 12, voted 12-3 for the TROs to stay, confirming the
earlier decision of Sereno.
The 3 who voted to quash the TROs were justices Antonio Carpio, Arturo Brion, and
Teresita Leoanardo De Castro. They are the 3 magistrate who sit in the Senate
Electoral Tribunal (SET), where they earlier voted against Poe in another
disqualification case. (READ: Why did SC justices vote to disqualify Grace Poe?)
The confirmation of the TROs was expected, as SC spokesman Theodore Te earlier
said there had been no instances in the past where the en banc overturned the
chief magistrate's decision. (READ: EXPLAINER: 3 reasons SC won't likely lift the
TROs on Comelec)
The High Court also confirmed the setting of the Comelec case for oral arguments
on January 19. The oral arguments for another disqualification case the one earlier
decided by the SET in favor of Poe has been reset to another date.
Given Comelec's January 20 deadline for finalizing the templates for the printing of
the ballots, the SC's decision means Grace Poe's name remains on the list.

In a media briefing after the en banc session, Te said that while the Solicitor General
had inhibited from Poe's cases against the Comelec, the government's chief lawyer
will still be notified to give his views. (READ: FULL TEXT: SolGen defends SET ruling
in favor of Grace Poe)
Poe's legal battle reached the SC after the Comelec en banc upheld the rulings of
two Comelec divisions cancelling the senator's COC for president due to issues on
her citizenship and residency in the Philippines.
Five out of 7 Comelec commissioners believe Poe did not meet the residency
requirement for presidential candidates, but only 4 of them believe there was
deliberate intent on her part to mislead the public on her residency status.
Meanwhile, on the citizenship issue, all 7 members of the Comelec en banc voted
against Poe's claim that she is a natural-born Filipino, but only 4 voted that there
was deliberate intent on the part of Poe to mislead the public.
Note that the unanimous vote of the Comelec commissioners on Poe's citizenship is
contrary to the final SET decision, which upheld the senator's natural-born status.
In its comment filed with the SC on Monday, January 11, the Comelec said it is not
legally bound to apply the SET ruling that declared Poe a natural-born Filipino.
The poll body also defended itself before the High Court, saying it did not commit
grave abuse of discretion when it ruled against Poe. It maintained that the senator
is ineligible to run for president and had deliberately misrepresented herself in her
How Comelec commissioners voted on Grace Poe's case
All commissioners rule that Poe is not a natural-born Filipino citizen,
contrary to the decision of the Senate Electoral Tribunal on a separate
MANILA, Philippines The poll commissioners have spoken for the Commission on
Elections (Comelec) en banc, presidential aspirant Grace Poe is not a natural-born
Filipino and is not eligible to run for president in 2016.
Voting 5-2 on the First Division case and 5-1 on the Second Division case, the en
banc cancelled Poe's certificate of candidacy for president just before the holidays.
While there were 2 dissenters Chairman Andres Bautista and Commissioner
Christian Robert Lim this does not automatically mean they agree that Poe is a
natural-born Filipino.
In fact, when it comes to her citizenship, all 7 members of the en banc voted
against Poes position that she holds a natural-born status as a Filipino citizen.
Interesting, but why?
It's because citizenship is just one part of the 5 issues they had to settle involving
the disqualification cases against the senator. They tackled:
Comelec's jurisdiction on Poe's qualifications
Poe's residency
Poe's natural-born status/citizenship
whether she deliberately misled the public on her residency and citizenship
whether the cancellation of her COC, as the First and Second divisions ruled, should
be upheld

Under the 1987 Constitution, natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the
Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their
Philippine citizenship.
Bautista, in his separate opinion on the First Division ruling against Poe, said the
mere fact that Poe regained her Philippine citizenship via Republic Act Number 9225
or the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act, it means she had to perform an
act to re-acquire it. (READ: FULL TEXT: Comelec chief's separate opinion on 1st div
ruling vs Poe)
Given the foregoing, there can only be one interpretation of Republic Act 9225 that
will do justice to the constitutional requirements for natural-born citizenship: a
former Filipino who reacquired Philippine citizenship should be deemed to be a
naturalized Filipino citizen, the chairman said in his separate opinion.
But why did Bautista vote against Poe's disqualification if he believes she is not
Baustista explained that he does not believe Poe intentionally misled the public
when she indicated in her COC that she is a natural-born Filipino and that she had
complied with the 10-year residency requirement for a presidential candidate.
Accordingly, while I find that the statements of Respondent as obtained in her 2016
COC regarding citizenship and residency are false, I do not believe thatthere was
a deliberate intent on Respondents part to mislead, misinform or hid a fact which
would otherwise render a candidate ineligible. Hence, I vote to dismiss the Petition,
he said in his 53-page separate opinion on the Second Division case.
How the Comelec voted
The Comelec en banc settled 5 issues that were raised in 2 disqualification cases
against the presidential race front runner.
The case in the First Division included the consolidated petitions filed by former
Senator Francisco Tatad, Professor Antonio Contreras, and University of the East Law
Dean Amado Valdez. Members of the First Division are commissioners Rowena
Guanzon, Christian Robert Lim, and Luie Tito Guia.
The Second Division case, meanwhile, focused on the petition filed by petitioner
Estrella Elamparo. The commissioners in the Second Division are Al Parreo, Arthur
Lim, and Sheriff Abbas.
As chairman, Bautista is the only one not belonging to a division. This means his
vote, until the last minute, remained unknown to the public.
Some commissioners are accused of being allies of the administration, as they were
appointed by President Benigno Aquino III, and some of them with links to Aquino's
presidential bet Manuel Roxas II of the Liberal Party, Poe's opponent in next year's
presidential elections. (READ: Poe hints Roxas, Binay behind disqualification cases
vs her)
Find out how each of them voted on the 5 issues:
In the final vote on whether to ultimately cancel Poe's certificate of candidacy, no
commissioner changed his or her previous decision. Bautista, in the end, voted in
favor of Poe together with Christian Lim.
Lim, who earlier voted against the cancellation at the division level, retained his
vote. He, however, opted to inhibit himself from the en banc decision on the Second
Division case, as Elamparo was an associate at his former law office. (READ:
Comelec commissioner explains vote in favor of Grace Poe)

While Guias final vote stayed the same, he changed his mind only on Poes
residency, saying that Poe's appeal made him re-evaluate his position. He now said
Poe met the 10-year requirement for a presidential candidate.
After said re-examination, I find that indeed Respondent can be considered to have
effectively transferred domicile from the US to the Philippines as of May 2005," Guia
said in his separate opinion on the en banc decision on the First Division case.
Citing jurisprudence, he added citizenship and residency should be treated
separately, as what Poe argues.
"One can be a permanent resident of a country even when he or she is a foreign
citizen. Re-acquisition of former citizenship is not a condition for one to be deemed
to have re-established his/her domicile in the country," he added.
Following this decision, Guia also voted in favor of Poe when he said Poe did not
intentionally mislead the public on her residency status. Bautista shared the same
For citizenship, Al Parreo maintained his decision in the Second Division level that
ruled Poe did not deliberately deceive the public. The Second Division earlier said
Poe as a foudling just naturally believed she was a natural-born Filipino, without
intention to misinform the people. Bautista also shared the same opinion that there
was no intent to deceive.
Christian Lim, for his part, refused to vote with the en banc on whether Poe
intentionally deceived the public on her citizenship status. He earlier claimed the 3
consolidated cases lacked merit and should have been dismissed early on for
technical issues.
Guanzon, Abbas, and Arthur Lim remained steadfast in their votes against the
neophyte senator.
MANILA, Philippines Liberal Party stalwart and Senate President Franklin Drilon
expressed disappointment over the Supreme Courts slow place in deciding the
disqualification case against presidential bet Senator Grace Poe. (READ: SC sets
another hearing, moves slowly on Poe case)
He said this "lack of sense of urgency" on the part of the High Court would threaten
the credibility of the May 2016 elections.
Drilon is referring to the possibility of including Poe's name in the ballot for the May
2016 elections but later having to consider her votes stray if she is suddenly
disqualified. The Commission on Elections has postponed the printing of the ballots
at least 3 times.
Drilon, who is seeking re-election under the administration slate led by Poes
opponent Manuel Mar Roxas II, said the High Court has the power to hold
marathon hearings on important cases such as Poes.
I am not happy with the pace of trial in the Supreme Court. It appears that the High
Court lacks a sense of urgency. This is not an ordinary case. It will have a vast
impact on our future, Drilon said on Wednesday, February 10.
[I urge the SC] to give the case extra ordinary attention, so that it can be decided
earlier in order to protect the integrity and credibility of the May 2016 polls, Drilon
One of Poe's accusers, lawyer Estrella Elamparo, earlier asked the High Court to
hold continuous hearings on Poe's case. The SC, however, did not act on the motion.

Drilon recalled how the SC, in his similar request in the past, reprimanded him and
told him "we know what we are doing."
Such arrogance does not have a place in a public discourse. The issue cannot be
left hanging. The case is posing serious threats to fair and credible elections in May
and only the Supreme Courts prompt action can eliminate that threat by resolving
the case at the soonest, Drilon said.
Drilon earlier pleaded the Commission on Elections to wait for the final court
decision on Poes status before printing ballots with the survey front runners name
making some camps think he is only waiting for Poe's disqualification. (READ: If no
SC ruling by Feb 1, Poe stays on ballot)
But Drilon said his only goal is to avoid confusion among the voters.
I am not passing judgment on the qualification nor disqualification of Senator Poe. I
am just saying that the more prudent thing to do is to wait for the final decision of
the Supreme Court, he earlier said.
'Respect' processes
The camp of Poe said they agree with Drilon as they have been pushing for the
early resolution of the case.
"The sooner the cases are decided on, the better for our upcoming elections," Poe's
spokesman Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian said.
They, however, oppose Drilon's earlier call for the poll body to wait for the final
decision before the printing of ballots.
"With all due respect, the TROs issued by the SC and upheld by the majority are still
in effect. The Comelec has no legal basis not to print Senator Poe's name in the
ballot," Gatchalian added.
The 5th day of oral arguments on Poe's disqualification case is set to resume on
February 16, after which all camps are to file their memoranda.