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Mary Grace Natividad S.

Poe - Llamanzares vs COMELEC and Estrella Elamparo
(GR 221697, GR 221698-700 March 8, 2016)

Facts:
Grace Poe declared in her Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for the May 2016 Presidential
Election that she is a natural-born citizen and she had been residing in the Philippines since 24
May 2005 which may be counted for more than 10 years preceding the election.
Poe was born and was abandoned in a church in Jaro, Iloilo sometime in 1968. She was found
and given care by Edgardo Militar and his relatives who then reported and registered Poe as a
fondling with the Civil Registrar of Iloilo under the name of "Mary Grace Natividad Contreras
Militar." Later when she was five years old, she was adopted by celebrity spouses Ronald Allan
Kelley Poe (a.k.a. Fenando Poe, Jr.) and Jesusa Sonora Poe (a.k.a. Susan Roces) which was
granted on May 13 1974. She immigrated to the US in 1991 to study and was naturalized as
American citizen in 2001 through her marriage.
According to Poe, 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.
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 that Poe is qualified as a candidate for
Presidency. Three justices, however, abstained to vote on the natural-born citizenship issue.

Issue:
1. Whether or not the COMELEC has jurisdiction to rule over issues concerning
qualifications of candidates.

2. Whether or not Poe satisfies the 10-year residency requirement.

3. Whether or not Poe is a natural-born Filipino citizen.

4. Whether or not Poe’s candidacy should be cancelled or denied for committing material
misrepresentations in her COC

Held:

In contrast. 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. 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 because such cases are different from the circumstances in this case. Hence.1. First. 2. Grace Poe’s domicile had been timely changed as of May 24. Yes. To assume otherwise is to accept the absurd. only the Supreme Court en banc has sole jurisdiction. No. There is simply no authorized proceeding in determining the ineligibility of candidates before elections. 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. 2006 when her application under RA 9225 was approved by the BI. Yes. Coupled with her eventual application to reacquire Philippine citizenship and her family’s actual continuous stay in the Philippines over the years. Grace Poe is considerably a natural-born Filipino. In this case. the Constitution provides that only the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) and House of Representatives Elecoral Tribunal (HRET) have sole jurisdiction over the election contests. Section 4 of the Revised Rules on Evidence. Sec 2 of the Constitution provides for the powers and functions of the COMELEC. as the norm. if not the virtually impossible. returns. and not on July 18. there is a high probability that Grace Poe’s parents are Filipinos. Grace Poe had satisfied the requirements under animus manendi together with the requirements under animus revertendi in acquiring a new domicile. there is intent to stay. Grace Poe presented an overwhelming evidence of her actual stay and intent to abandon permanently her domicile in the US. 2005. and deciding on the qualifications or lack thereof of a candidate is not one among them. 3. Such lack of provision cannot be supplied by a mere rule. 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. 2005. and qualifications of their respective members. But the Constitution is silent on the issue of qualification. COMELEC was not granted the authority to decide on disqualifications cases against candidates. whereas over the President and Vice President. Article IX-C. it is clear that when Grace Poe returned on May 24. She had satisfied one of the constitutional requirements that only natural-born Filipinos may run for presidency. That probability and the evidence on which it is based are admissible under Rule 128.

Because of silence and ambiguity in the enumeration with respect to foundlings. natural-born citizens. Hence.Second. that foundlings are automatically conferred with natural-born citizenship is supported by treaties and the general principles of international law. 4. In this case. 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. Although the Philippines is not a signatory to some of these treaties. there is no restrictive language which would definitely exclude foundlings either. 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. No. the SC felt the need to examine the intent of the framers. the Supreme Court had already pronounced that Poe is qualified as a candidate for the presidency. it adheres to the customary rule to presume foundlings as having born of the country in which the foundling is found. the SC pronounced that foundlings are as a class. 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. While the 1935 Constitution’s enumeration is silent as to foundlings. . there cannot be any false representations in her COC regarding her citizenship and residency. Third. by votes of 7-5.