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This legal research define and analyze the issue about foundling,

Various experts have their own opinions in regard with foundling. There are some editorial writers
expressing their legal opinion about the issue. Legal luminaries have been expressing their thoughts
clarifying their stand about it. Stated below are some literature reviews, commentaries, opinions about

By: Artemio V. Panganiban, August 30th, 2015 01:02 AM

The rise to fame of Sen. Grace Poe and the stratospheric viewership ratings of primetime
telenovelas on abandoned children (like “Niño,” “Nathaniel,” “Dream Dad” and “Munting Heredera”) have
riveted public attention on foundlings and orphans, to the delight of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Discrimination vs. orphans. These children have been discriminated
against because they have no known biological parents. Consequently, they suffer from lack of lineage,
parental care, family support, inheritance and succession. Even those who have been legally adopted,
cared for and unconditionally loved by foster parents—while assured of the civil rights of legitimate
children—are many times restricted in terms of their political rights to citizenship and residency which
are prerequisites to exercise the right to vote and to be voted to public office. Indeed, our constitutions
(whether current or past) and our statutes do not expressly grant them these political rights. For example,
I had to research on the “generally-accepted principles of international law” to conclude that Senator Poe
possesses natural-born citizenship.

Natural-born citizenship is a required qualification for the top officials of our country—president, vice
president, senators, congressmen and justices of the Supreme Court. UN battles discrimination.
Fortunately, the United Nations—since its founding more than half a century ago—has been fighting for
equal treatment of all the peoples of the world, regardless of race, color, religion, language, sex, political
opinions, ethnic origin, age and accidents of birth.

As early as Dec. 10, 1948, the UN approved the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) which
proclaims, “Everyone has the right to a nationality.” (Nationality is another word for citizenship.) Later,
the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the 1990 Convention on the
Rights of the Child (CRC) seconded this declaration in these ringing words,

“Every child has the right to acquire a nationality.”

To alleviate the suffering of persons devoid of citizenship, the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of
Stateless Persons mandated the “Contracting Parties to facilitate the assimilation and naturalization of
stateless persons. “More precisely, the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (1961
Convention), in its Article 2, addressed directly the plight of orphans: “A foundling found in the territory
of a Contracting State shall, in the absence of proof to the contrary, be considered to have been born
within that territory of parents possessing the nationality of that State.”

Thus, a foundling found in the Philippines is deemed to have Filipino parents. It follows that, under our
Constitution, that foundling is presumed to be a “natural-born” citizen since its parents are Filipinos, and
thus qualified to run for president or vice president.

My thesis is simple: In our democracy, our 50 million voters should choose our highest officials, not our
unelected and politically unaccountable though learned and wise Supreme Court justices. UNHCR’s work
in PH. For more than 50 years, the UNHCR—currently represented in the Philippines by Bernard Kerblat—
has been urging our country to accede to the 1961 Convention.

True, express accession is not necessary to recognize the citizenship of foundlings because the Philippines
has already adopted, acceded and ratified the UDHR, ICCPR and CRC. Nonetheless, such accession would
benefit other disadvantage individuals like internally-displaced persons. In an aide-mémoire, the
Philippine office of the UNHCR aid that in February this year, various agencies convened to develop a
national action plan to end statelessness, with accession to the 1961 Convention as a goal by the end of
2016. The Philippines is a country that has about10 million citizens working abroad. Thus, it has a keen
interest in protecting non-Filipinos living in its shores, in reciprocity for its hope that its nationals living
and working abroad would in equal measure be treated fairly and justly. It is therefore fitting and proper
that it cooperates, as it actually does, with the UNHCR in accommodating and hosting, within all possible
means, persons of concern to the UNHCR, including:

Internally-displaced individuals—those who have been forced to flee their homes as a result of or to avoid
the effects of armed conflicts, or of the violations of their human rights, or of natural or man-made
disasters; included in this category are the Rohingyas, “the new boat people” who fled Burma (Myanmar)
and Bangladesh.

Refugees—those who left or are unable to return to their country on well-grounded fears of persecution
for reasons of race, religion or political belief; and

Stateless persons—those who are not considered nationals of any state; stateless persons suffer travel
discrimination because they have no passports.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has issued Circular No. 58 outlining the procedure for accepting these
maltreated persons into the Philippines. Specifically, she announced the willingness of our country to host
the Rohingyas. Senator Poe has made it her mission to take care of abandoned children. Thus, she filed
Senate Bill No. 2892 to strengthen the system for the birth registration of children needing special
protection, including foundlings like her.

By: Randy David, August 13th, 2015 12:12 AM

That phrase, without a hyphen, first appeared in the United States Constitution as one of the
requirements for the position of president. A “natural born Citizen” is a person who is a citizen from birth,
in contrast to one who acquires citizenship by naturalization. No other position in the American
government specifies this requirement.

The story is told that it was George Washington no less who introduced this unique phrase into the draft
American constitution, following a suggestion from James Jay, who would later become chief justice of
the US Supreme Court. Jay was troubled by the possibility that the nation’s armed forces would be placed
under the command of anyone other than a “natural born Citizen.” This requirement was intended, Justice
Joseph Story explains in his lucid Commentaries on the Constitution, to “interpose a barrier against those
corrupt interferences of foreign governments in executive elections.”

The phrase, now hyphenated, found its way into the Philippine Constitution, where it is prescribed not
just for the presidency but also for membership in both houses of Congress. And just as it has been invoked
many times to challenge the eligibility of candidates for the US presidency, it comes as no surprise that it
would also be used to oppose the candidacies of some people in Philippine politics.

Laws pertaining to citizenship are specific to every nation. They change over time, reflecting the values
and anxieties of a given period. My impression is that it is relatively easier to acquire citizenship in the
United States than in the Philippines. But once American citizenship is renounced, it is virtually impossible
to get it back. In our case, we passed a law, Republic Act No. 9225, the “Citizenship Retention and Re-
acquisition Act of 2003,” otherwise known as the Dual Citizenship Law, that enables natural-born Filipino
citizens, who lost their citizenship when they applied for naturalization in another country, to reacquire
it. One simply notifies the Bureau of Immigration in Manila or a Philippine consulate abroad, showing
proof of being natural-born, and takes a nonexclusive oath of allegiance. Dual citizens regain their Filipino
citizenship without risking their foreign citizenship. They get to enjoy all the rights and privileges of Filipino
citizens, except appointment or election to public office.

The purpose of this law is to encourage the millions of Filipinos who have left the country and settled
abroad to come back and help in the development of their native land. Passing it was far from easy. Our
Constitution jealously frowns upon dual allegiance, calling it “inimical to the national interest.” But RA
9225 has survived repeated challenges to its constitutionality.

Citizenship is a legal issue, but also an emotional one. I am not a lawyer, but I think Sen. Grace Poe’s
eligibility for an elective position in the legislature or the presidency is arguable using RA 9225. That law
permitted her to regain her status as a natural-born citizen of this country. But those who oppose her on
citizenship grounds will likely ask whether someone who renounced and later reacquired Philippine
citizenship can still be considered a natural-born citizen as defined by the 1987 Constitution. Here’s what
Article IV, Section 2, says: “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.”

Questions: If you renounced and lost your citizenship—and later reacquired it after applying and taking
an oath—wouldn’t the latter be regarded as performing an “act to acquire or perfect” one’s citizenship?
Doesn’t renouncing your citizenship mean canceling your allegiance to your mother country? And isn’t
that the reason for taking the oath of allegiance when you apply to regain it?

I think it was Grace’s voluntary renunciation of her Filipino citizenship at one point in her life, rather than
the uncertainty of her citizenship at birth as a foundling that will hound her political career. This is not just
a legal issue. It is also, unavoidably, a political one because it has to do with choosing the people who will
make decisions in our name. There has to be a reason for the constitutional requirement that the
president of the republic be a natural-born citizen, just as I am sure there is a reason for requiring holders
of high offices in our government to hold no other citizenship but Filipino.

I have four siblings who, like many Filipinos, have lived in America for years and have opted to become
American citizens. I never questioned their decision because I don’t believe that one’s enduring affinities
and affections are determined by whatever passport one happens to be holding.

Having said that, I nonetheless find it reasonable that the Constitution requires more from those aspiring
for the highest offices of the republic. They must be free of the stain of dual allegiance. Grace has to find
a convincing way to respond, for example, to the late Supreme Court Justice Isagani Cruz’s contention that
“Philippine citizenship previously disowned is not that cheaply recovered.” Justice Cruz was always
eloquent when it concerned the obligations of Filipino citizenship: “This country of ours, for all its
difficulties and limitations, is like a jealous and possessive mother. Once rejected, it is not quick to
welcome back with eager arms its prodigal if repentant children. The returning renegade must show, by
an express and unequivocal act, the renewal of his loyalty and love.”

No international law confers Philippine nationality to foundling

POSTSCRIPT by: Federico D. Pascual Jr. (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 1, 2015 - 12:00am

Too long have we been exposed to chatter that, whatever the Constitution says on who are
Philippine citizens, customary international law automatically confers nationality to such foundlings as
Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares whose claim to being a natural-born citizen is being challenged.
Today we listen to Ambassador Jaime S. Bautista, who contends that there is no customary
international law that confers a specific nationality to foundlings. He is a law professor at the Ateneo de
Manila University and a pre-bar reviewer on international law, Philippine Christian University. In a
commentary last Monday in The Manila Times, Bautista said:

“THERE is no customary international law conferring a specific nationality to foundlings. In principle, it is

the sovereign right of a State to determine who are its citizens and the conditions for acquiring its
nationality. However, States must respect their obligations under international law. In the case of the
Philippines, the 1987 Constitution determines who Philippine citizens are.

“The right to a nationality was one of the rights pronounced by the UN Declaration of Human Rights, but
not to a specific nationality. Its Article 15 (1) declares that ‘Everyone has a right to a nationality.’

“This Declaration was a non-binding instrument consisting of 30 articles adopted unanimously by the UN
General Assembly with 44 for, none against, and eight abstentions. The US Supreme Court in a case about
arbitrary arrest asserted that because UDHR was not binding at its inception, it could not establish a
relevant rule of international law.

“The UDHR has served as a template for international agreements on human rights. Among them is the
1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCCPR), which provides in its Article 24 that:

2. Every child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have a name.

3. Every child shall have the right to acquire a nationality.

Convention: Foundlings need implementing law

BAUTISTA continued: “Subsequently, the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child reiterated and
expanded on this right in its Article 7:

1. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name,
the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his
or her parents.’
2. “Said Article 7 further provides in its Paragraph 2 that ‘States Parties shall ensure the
implementation of these rights in accordance with their national law and their obligations under
the relevant international instruments in this field, particularly where the child would otherwise
be stateless.’

“Thus, this Convention of the Rights of the Child recognizes the need for legislation for the child to acquire
the nationality of a Contracting Party, and also recognizes that if implementing legislation is not passed, a
child could be stateless.
“The Philippines is a Contracting Party to both the ICCPR and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Prior to these Conventions, the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Stateless also recognized that States
maintain the right to elaborate the content of their nationality laws but obliged a Contracting Party to
grant its nationality to persons born in its territory who would otherwise be stateless.

“The Philippines is not bound by this Convention because it is not a Contracting Party.

“As a Contracting Party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Philippines has the responsibility
to pass legislation to protect the rights of a foundling (one whose father and mother are unknown),
including the right to acquire Philippine citizenship in accordance with the Philippine Constitution.

“This Convention evidently recognizes that, without legislation passed by the Philippine Congress, a
foundling in the Philippines would not be able to acquire Philippine citizenship.

“The 1987 Philippine Constitution, like the previous 1935 and 1973 Constitutions, observes the principle
of jus sanguinis and distinguishes between natural-born citizens (born of Filipino parents) and naturalized
citizens. The Philippine Constitutions do not contain any specific provision granting Filipino citizenship to

“Thank you for this article as you named the relevant Declaration, Convention, Covenant, etc. to the
citizenship case of Mrs. Llamanzares. It is also a good thing that you indicated that the Philippines is not
bound by 1961 UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness because it is not a Contracting Party to
the Convention. A number of legal supporters of Mrs. Llamanzares keep mentioning Article 2 of this
Convention in support of their position that she is a natural-born Filipino:

“Article 2: ‘A foundling found in the territory of a Contracting State shall, in the absence of proof to the
contrary, be considered to have been born within that territory of parents possessing the nationality of
that State’.

“What I found intriguing and unusual from these supposedly knowledgeable experts is their failure to
mention, either from a lack of awareness or more likely, from deliberate omission, the fact that the
Convention is non-enforceable or has no force in the Philippines. Article 12 of the Convention even
acknowledges this point:

‘The provisions of Article 2 of this Convention shall apply only to foundlings found in the territory of a
Contracting State after the entry into force of the Convention for that State’.

“Since the Philippines (the State) did not ratify the Convention, its ‘entry into force’ never took place or
“More important than Article 2 of the 1961 Convention is the primacy of the express provisions of the
Philippine Constitution in respect of citizenship (equal to the word ‘nationality’ in the Convention). Even
if the Philippines had ratified the Convention, the Philippine Constitution is sovereign overall and
supersedes the Convention.”

EDITORIAL - Foundling apart from citizenship, residency

(The Freeman) | Updated September 5, 2015 - 12:00am

A few weeks back, Susan Roces, the adoptive mother of Senator Grace Poe, has come out swinging
on the matter of Poe's being a foundling. Like Poe and many others, either Susan honestly believes her
daughter is being demeaned as a person on account of her being a foundling or was conveniently led into
believing that that was the intention when the subject of her being a foundling was brought to the fore in
light of questions about her citizenship and residency.

Regardless of whether the misunderstanding was innocent or by design, it is still a misunderstanding –

that Poe's being a foundling is at the core of the citizenship and residency issue. But a dispassionate
perusal of the issue would show that Poe's being a foundling is a matter of fact, one that would always
come up in every telling and retelling of her life story, regardless of whether there is any question or issue
brought up against her or not.

There is a need to separate the fact of Poe's being a foundling and the issues of citizenship and residency
that are being raised against her. They do not necessarily have to be taken together. In fact, they should
never be together. They only happen to be that way because in tracing the circumstances relevant to the
issues on her citizenship and residency, it cannot be helped to go back to where her story began. And her
story just cannot but begin with her being a foundling.

Now, Poe believes the citizenship and residency questions raised against her are politically motivated.
Perhaps they are. But it is important to know what Poe is really trying to say. If she is saying it as a matter
of fact, then who can really argue against a fact. She does not live in an abbey anyway. And she is deep
into politics where political motivations are served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. In politics they question
anything. The color of one's teeth can be a health issue.

But if Poe is saying that because the questions are politically motivated she does not have to answer them
anymore, or worse, that they have been invalidated, then she has a very serious problem, one that can
give rise to another question about her capacity to lead the country as president, which by definition is
the chief executive and, therefore, the lead implementer of all its laws, including the law pertaining to the
qualifications of anyone seeking the presidency.

The questions, therefore, cannot be avoided even if they are coated in malice because at their heart lie
the very measure of her qualification to be president. Even if she is personally and absolutely certain of
her qualifications, she still needs to answer them before the public, the same public she is in fact courting
for a mandate to be their president, if that is what she really aspires to be, as strongly evidenced by her
body language.
And when she gets around to answering the questions about her citizenship and residency, it is hoped
that she refrains from bringing up the matter of her being a foundling because that is not what the
questions are about. There are valid questions surrounding her citizenship and residency.


FIRST PERSON By Alex Magno (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 4, 2015 - 12:00am

Suddenly, everything seems to be back up in the air again.

If Toby Tiangco’s arithmetic works out right, it appears Senator Grace Poe cannot be qualified to run for
either president or vice-president. The law sets a ten-year residency requirement for those seeking the
highest public offices. The law may be harsh, but it is the law. What started out as a spectacularly
blossoming candidacy, a fairy tale march on the presidency, could actually die on a technicality.

The residency requirement seems pretty forthright. Over the next few days, we will hear the lawyers split
hairs on the matter. In the end, the thing will have to be settled on the barren plain of arithmetic.

There are other legal complications that might be raised.

Grace Poe has this amazing, Moses-like story. She was found abandoned at the Jaro Cathedral, apparently
a short while after she was born. A prominent family in the town took care of the baby. She was later
given up for adoption by Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces.

One version of the story has it that then Jaro Bishop Jaime Sin (later to become the charismatic archbishop
of Manila) interceded for the adoption to happen. A foundling, her biological parents could not be
identified. Therefore, a wild lawyer’s mind might argue, it cannot be established if she is a “natural-born
Filipino. “The law requires that our highest officials be “natural-born Filipinos.” If her biological parents
cannot be identified, then Poe’s status as “natural-born” could be the subject of legal contest. This might
seem to be an academic issue. But there are very few qualifications set for anyone seeking high office.
Our laws do not require them to be well educated or confirmed to be sane. But they must be “natural-
born Filipinos.”Recall that this was an issue raised against the senator’s father, Fernando Poe Jr. His
mother was American. I do not recall exactly how this matter was eventually settled, although Poe was
allowed his candidacy.

Grace Poe, too, once acquired US citizenship (or held dual citizenship). She subsequently renounced her
US citizenship. A legal debate could be opened on this seemingly trivial but legally important matter.

I will interview legal experts on this matter later. At the moment, the items cited above could introduce
legal complications on what, for a moment, seemed to be a simple matter of the senator simply filing her
candidacy and preparing to campaign for higher office.

Once upon a time, when Filipino nationalism was passionate, our voters were every particular about the
“purity” of those who will lead the nation. I sense that today our voters might be less squeamish about
this qualification for high office. Still our laws qualifying those seeking higher office remain strict.

Should Poe be knocked off the presidential game on account of some technicality regarding her citizenship
credentials, the electoral dynamic will change dramatically. She will leave a large void on the spectrum of
voter choices that someone somehow must fill.

The latest voter preference survey done by Junie Laylo puts Poe a strong second to Binay. An informal
survey done by party-list group Magdalo along the so-called Lingayen-Lucena Corridor puts Poe on top,
Binay and strong second and presumptive LP bet Mar Roxas way down in the rankings. Another informal
survey, the “Boses ni Juan” poll conducted nationwide by DWIZ puts Poe on top, Binay a fighting second
and Roxas nowhere to be found. I could not imagine how Poe might get around the constitutional
requirement for ten years residency without declaring her 2012 Comelec submission an act of perjury.
The disqualification of Poe obviously benefits the Binay bid. There is no one on the horizon quite as
popular as she is. Given the limited window before candidacies will have to be filed, there is no one else
who might rise to the occasion with the aplomb a potential Poe candidacy mustered the past few months.
The technical impairment raised by the residency requirement is good news for the Binay camp. It is also
bad news. Now, those who tried very hard to destroy Binay through surrogates and nominees will now
have to double their effort to knock him out before the electoral period.

If Poe is barred by technicality and Binay is impaired, the field will be suddenly opened. A multi-candidate
race is in the offing. If ten candidates vie for the presidency, Mar Roxas and his cash-rich Liberal Party
could limp to the finish line with a plurality. This will be somewhat a repeat of the 7-candidate 1992
contest where Fidel Ramos nosed ahead of Miriam Santiago with a mere one percent of the vote,
garnering less than a quarter of actual voters.

Ramos, the most minority of the minority presidents our crazy “multi-party system” installed in office,
moved quickly early on to build a “rainbow coalition” to cure the potential political debility. Roxas, if he
ekes out a minority win, might not be able to repeat the same success Ramos had at coalition building.
His will be a besieged presidency from the start if that ever comes to pass.

This could also be an opening for Rodrigo Duterte. If voter preferences are widely and nearly evenly
distributed, Duterte could use his strong regional vote to dominate the rest of the field. But here too, he
could be heir to the narrow political support a minority presidency brings — this one compounded by a
clear regional bias.

The inherent weakness of our party system, fostered by a flawed constitutional design, is now in full
display. The cure can only be constitutional renovation — although that can only be undertaken by a
popularly supported leader.


The legal arguments relating to foundling has triggered numerous comments which do not have any sound
legal foundation.
One comment has it that a foundling should not be disqualified from running for public office because it
isn’t one’s fault that one is a foundling. Another posits that disqualifying a foundling from elective public
office amounts to discrimination, which, in turn, makes the foundling a second-class citizen in his or her
own country. Others insist on reading something in international agreements which isn’t there to begin

As pointed out by Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, a foundling cannot have the status of a natural-
born citizen of the Philippines because the 1987 Constitution reckons natural-born citizenship from one’s
birth. By definition, a foundling is one who is abandoned at infancy and whose biological parents are
unknown. If the infant’s biological parents are known from the start, then the infant is not a foundling.
Since the circumstances surrounding the birth of a foundling are likewise unknown, the foundling’s
citizenship cannot be reckoned on the basis of his or her birth. To do so will be purely speculative. It may
also amount to a felony because the Revised Penal Code penalizes the simulation of births. Philippine
jurisprudence holds that adoption does not confer upon the adopted the citizenship of the adopting
parent or parents. To allow otherwise is to make it easy for unscrupulous aliens to circumvent Philippine
laws on citizenship by using adoption as a vehicle for obtaining Philippine citizenship. Adoption only
confers upon the adopted the status of a legitimate child of the adopting parent or parents.

If international covenants are to apply to the Philippine situation, and not all of them are applicable, the
foundling may be considered a Filipino citizen, but not a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, because,
as mentioned earlier, the 1987 Constitution reckons natural-born citizenship on the basis of one’s birth.
International agreements, no matter how well-meaning, cannot modify or amend the Constitution.

For the same reason, international agreements cannot dictate that a foundling in the Philippines must be
considered, or at least presumed as natural-born citizens of the Philippines. To allow that is to permit
international agreements to amend or modify the 1987 Constitution. That is not permissible, and the
Constitution itself says so. A foundling who is considered a Filipino citizen may run for public office, except
those which the 1987 Constitution reserves exclusively for natural-born citizens. This may seem like
discrimination against foundlings, but it is what the fundamental law of the land mandates. Thus, when
the state enforces the Constitution’s definition of who a natural-born citizen of the Philippines is and who
is not, it is unfair to conclude that the state is discriminating against foundlings, or that foundlings are
treated as second-class citizens in the country.

No person can be compelled to run for public office. Therefore, if one wants to run for public office, it is
assumed that he or she does so voluntarily. It is also assumed that he or she is willing to comply with the
laws governing the election. One such law is the 1987 Constitution—the supreme law of the land. In
other words, if one wants to join a competition, one must abide by its rules.

1934 Constitutional Convention which drafted the 1935 Constitution of the Philippines intended to treat
foundlings as natural-born citizens of the Philippines, but they did not find it necessary to put this precept
in the text of the charter.

In the case Poe thus they argue that must be considered a natural-born citizen of the Philippines. That
argument is specious. First, if it were really the intention of the delegates to treat foundlings as natural-
born citizens, then their intention should have been written in the text of the 1935 Constitution. What
they argued in words, should have been reduced to writing. Second, when the 1935 Constitution was
ratified by the Filipino people, there was no such provision in the text which favored foundlings as natural-
born citizens. How can something which was not in the text of the 1935 Constitution be binding on the
people who did not see it in the charter? Jurisprudence dictates that in the interpretation of the
Constitution, the construction given by the delegates who drafted the charter cannot prevail over the
construction given by the people who ratified it. After all, the Constitution draws its force and effect from
the people who ratified it, and not from the delegates who drafted it.

At any rate, since Poe is running for a public office governed by the provisions of the 1987 Constitution,
she must abide by its provisions, including its definition of a natural-born citizen of the Philippines— which
she is not. Poe cannot invoke the 1935 Constitution to justify her bid for an office governed by the 1987
Constitution. Poe supporters insist that in the disqualification case currently pending against her before
the Senate Electoral Tribunal, petitioner Rizalito David has the burden of proving that Poe is not a natural-
born citizen of the Philippines. Actually, that burden was discharged by Poe because of her own admission
that she is a foundling. As pointed out above, since a foundling cannot be considered a natural-born
citizen of the Philippines, Poe has the burden of proving that the provisions of the 1987 Constitution do
not apply to her.

There is no presumption that one is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines. One who wants to serve the
people in a public office reserved for natural-born citizens must convince the electorate that he or she
meets the citizenship requirements therefor. If there is such a presumption, then why does the
Commission on Elections require candidates for national office to submit documents to prove their
qualifications for the public office they seek?

Written by: Benjamin B. Pulta Friday, 11 September 2015 00:00

Poe’s case discriminatory vs. foundlings, claims lawyer

Women’s rights advocate lawyer Katrina Legarda said Sen. Grace Poe has fulfilled the citizenship and
residency requirements to run for President.

In a statement, Legarda stressed that the case filed against Poe to disqualify her from the Senate on
questions about her citizenship is clearly discrimination against abandoned children. ”If a foundling is not
presumed natural born then no abandoned child can ever aspire for national office,” she said. Legarda
said if the arguments of the proponent of the disqualification cases filed against Poe before the Senate
Electoral Tribunal and before the Commission on Elections (Comelec), are upheld, it would be tantamount
to saying that abandoned children whose parents are not known have no civil and political rights. This is
a violation of the equal protection of laws because there is now a distinction between an abandoned child
whose parents are known and abandoned child whose parents are not known.
“You cannot have one law for abandoned children whose parents are known and another law for
abandoned children whose parents are not known. This is discriminatory, violative of equal protection of
the law,” Legarda said.

She said all the issues hounding Poe stem from her topping the presidential surveys. “It is extraordinary
that, because a foundling is number 1 in the political surveys, all of a sudden all abandoned children who
do not know their parents have lost their civil and political rights,” she said.

She also said Poe satisfies the citizenship and residency requirements mandated in the 1987 Constitution
for the Senate and even for higher office.

The Charter requires one who aspires for the presidency to be a natural-born Filipino who has resided in
the Philippines for at least 10 years.

“There is no question that Poe is natural-born Filipino, as cited a 1951 opinion of the Department of
Justice that holds in force to this day, a foundling is a citizen of the place where he is found by virtue of
the standing principles of international law,” Legarda said adding that based on documents she
submitted before the SET suggested she’s here at least 11 years in residence.

Constitutional experts however said the issue is not that Poe is not a Filipino. The issue is whether she is
a natural born Filipino, as this is a requirement of the Constitution for presidential and vice presidential

In Poe’s case living overseas for a number of years, Legarda said, “she followed the legal domicile of her
husband because she is married; there are different rights and obligations you have as married couples
and she followed her husband which is as it should be.”

“She decided to come back here when her father died in 2004 and (her husband) followed her. This time
it was his turn to follow her,” and that she said ‘I’m going to come back to live here because my mother
is alone,” Legarda said.

“Many people don’t believe that the family and the child is an important part of our country. They forget
that the child does become an adult. And if you really believe that a foundling has no citizenship at birth,
that means no foundling can be a doctor, a lawyer,a journalist… because you have to be a citizen to be
that,” she added. The question is that she need not have become an American citizen. She could have
easily have obtained a green card, being married to an American citizen.

Losing 2013 senatorial candidate Rizalito David had filed a quo warranto petition against Poe before the
SET on the ground that she is not a natural born citizen of the Philippines, hence she is not qualified to
sit as member of the Philippine Senate and lacked thetwo-year residency requirement when she ran in
Legarda said Poe as an abandoned child “found” in Jaro, Iloilo is 1968 is a natural born Filipino citizen
because the framers of the 1935 Constitution, the Constitution in effect at the time of her birth, had
recognized that foundlings found in the Philippines are Filipino citizens based on generally accepted
principles of international law without further need of legislative action.

“By international law, the principle that children or people born in the country of unknown parents are
citizens of that country is recognized, it is not necessary to include these children (as they) are presumed
to be Filipino,” she further stated.

In fact, Legarda said, the Philippines has long recognized this general principle when it presumed an
abandoned child found by a doctor to be a citizen of the Philippines as embodied in DoJ Opinion No.
1989 Series of 1951.

She added that only Filipino children can be adopted under both our Domestic Adoption and
InterCountry Adoption Code. Poe was adopted by movie stars Fernando Poe Jr. and his wife Susan

In a Star column yesterda by Dick Pascual however, he listed, among the 21 pieces of documents
submitted to the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) by Poe, are:

• Annex 1 – Intercalated Certificate of Live Birth with handwritten insertions indicating Grace was found
in the parish church of Jaro, Iloilo, at about 9:30 a.m., Sept. 3, 1968, by one Edgardo Militar. Written on
the paper was the date Nov. 27, 1968.

• Annex 2 – Decision dated May 13, 1974, of Judge Alfredo Gorgonio of the Municipal Court of San Juan
approving the adoption of Grace by spouses Jesusa L. Sonora and Ronald Allan K. Poe.