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NAVA, Maria Carlina J.

Legal Technique and Logic


Poe-Llamanzares v. COMELEC: Revisited
The Philippine Constitution requires a person running for presidency to be a natural-born
citizen and a resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years immediately preceding such
election. Philippine presidential candidate Grace Poe-Llamanzares is controversial because there
is a question about her citizenship and residency. In her case, the Supreme Court stated that there
is high probability that Grace Poe-Llamanzares’ parents are Filipinos because of the fact that she
was abandoned as an infant and found in Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral in Iloilo City. The
Supreme Court also said that Grace Poe-Llamanzares has typical Filipino features: height, flat
nasal bridge, straight black hair, almond shaped eyes and oval face. The Supreme Court arrived
at its decision because of these particular instances. The principle used by the Supreme Court in
its decision on whether Grace Poe-Llamanzares is a natural-born Filipino citizen is inductive
generalization. The fact that Grace Poe-Llamanzares has typical Filipino features and was found
in a Roman Catholic Church in Iloilo City, a municipality where the population of the
Philippines is overwhelmingly Filipinos based on census statistics for that province from
Philippine Statistics Authority such that there would be more than a 99% chance that a child born
in the province would be a Filipino, leads to the conclusion of the Supreme Court that Grace-
Poe-Llamanzares’ parents are Filipinos, thus, she is a natural-born Filipino citizen.
However, the decision of the Supreme Court on the issue of citizenship of Grace Poe-
Llamanzares is somehow inaccurate. The logic of the Supreme Court is, by some means, flawed.
The evidence against Grace Poe-Llamanzares shows that she cannot be considered as a natural-
born Filipino. Because of the decision of the Supreme Court, logic and the inviolability of the
Constitution are lost. By means of deductive reasoning in this matter, Grace Poe-Llamanzares
should not be regarded as natural-born Filipino, thus, she is not qualified to run for presidency.
We have to uphold the Constitution. Section 2 Article VII of the Constitution states that “No
person shall be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.” This
refers to Section 2 Article IV which states that “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. Associated with the aforementioned provisions is Section 1(2) Article IV
which states that among others, “The following are citizens of the Philippines... (2) Those whose
fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines. Since Grace Poe-Llamanzares is a foundling,
and a foundling is one whose parentage and whose birth circumstances are unknown, we can
conclude that she cannot be considered a natural-born Filipino, therefore, she is not qualified to
be President of the Philippines.
Moreover, the Supreme Court in its decision stated that foundlings are likewise citizens
under international law. The Supreme Court interpreted the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights as part of the generally accepted principles of international law and binding on the state.
Article 15 thereof states that everyone has the right to a nationality and no one shall be arbitrarily
deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality. The principle found in
the 1930 Hague Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws
which states in Article 14 that a foundling is presumed to have the nationality of the country of
birth and the principle that a foundling is presumed born of citizens of the country where he is
found, contained in Article 2 of the 1961 United Nations Convention on the Reduction of
Statelessness are also generally accepted principles of international law. However, by using
inductive reasoning, since The Philippine Constitution always trumps international law and it is
sovereign overall and supersedes the Convention, and since the Constitution is clear regarding
who are Filipino citizens as well as who are considered natural-born citizens, we cannot use
international law as authority. For this reason, we come to the conclusion that the Philippines
cannot follow international laws. Furthermore, the Supreme Court declared Grace Poe-
Llamanzares as natural-born Filipino by adopting legal principles from the aforesaid
conventions. The Supreme Court said that it is rational and reasonable and consistent with the jus
sanguinis regime in the Constitution. The presumption of natural-born citizenship stems from the
presumption that their parents are nationals of the Philippines. And because the data provided by
the Philippine Statistics Authority shows that this presumption is at more than 99% and is a near
certainty. “All of the international law conventions and instruments on the matter of nationality
of foundlings were designed to address the plight of a defenseless class which suffers from a
misfortune not of their own making,” added by the Supreme Court. It also stated in its decision
that the COMELEC ruled that Grace Poe-Llamanzares’ repatriation in July 2006 under the
provisions of Republic Act No. 92251 did not result in the reacquisition of natural-born
citizenship but only plain Philippine citizenship. The Supreme Court said as well that the

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Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003.
COMELEC disregards consistent jurisprudence on the matter of repatriation statutes in general
and of Republic Act No. 9225 in particular. The COMELEC ruled by means of reasoning by
analogy and doctrine of precedent. Analogy involves an earlier decision being followed in a later
case because the latter case is similar to the earlier one and doctrine of precedent involves an
earlier decision being followed in a later case because both cases are the same.2 The COMELEC
made reference to the past, normally due to the belief that what it did in the past was the right
thing to do, or at least is a good guide to what is the right thing to do now. In the influential case
of Bengson III v. HRET, repatriation was explained. Republic Act No. 9225 is a repatriation
statue and has been described as such in several cases. The COMELEC includes some cases such
as Pareno v. Commission on Audit and Tabasa v. Court of Appeals. In Bengson III v. HRET,
repatriation is explained as the results in the recovery of the original nationality, meaning, a
naturalized Filipino who lost his citizenship will be restored to his prior status as a naturalized
Filipino citizen and if he was originally a natural-born citizen before he lost his Philippine
citizenship, he will be restored to his former status as a natural-born Filipino. The other cases,
Pareno v. Commission on Audit and Tabasa v. Court of Appeals, also used this to describe
repatriation. Also in Bengson III v. HRET, the Supreme Court pointed out that there are only two
types of citizens: natural-born and naturalized, and that there is no third category for the
repatriated citizens. The COMELEC, for that matter, surveyed past decisions, identified ways in
which these decisions are similar to or different from each other and the question before it, and
developed a principle that captures the similarities and differences it considers important.
Consecutively, this principle provides the basis for its decision. The COMELEC regarded earlier
decisions as being relevant by citing them as analogies. It also believed that since courts are
bound to apply the law, and since earlier decisions have practical authority over the content of
the law, later courts are bound to follow the decisions of earlier cases. This is known as the
doctrine of precedent or stare decisis.
On the issue of residency of Grace Poe-Llamanzares, the Supreme Court used reasoning
by analogy, and in Marcos v. COMELEC, it held that “the fact of residence, not a statement in a
certificate of candidacy, is decisive in determining whether or not an individual has satisfied the
Constitution’s residence qualification requirement.3” The Court said that Mrs. Imelda Marcos

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Precedent and Analogy in Legal Reasoning. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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G.R. No.119976
made an honest mistake in writing seven months residence in her certificate of candidacy for a
congressional seat, which the constitution requires for that position a period of not less than one
year. In the same way, Grace Poe-Llamanzares’ honest mistake in specifying her residence in her
certificate of candidacy for the Senate to be only six years and six months is not necessary proof
of the duration of her domicile in the country. Based on these acts facts, the Supreme Court held
she will exceed the 10-year residency requirement. However, based on the documents submitted
by Grace Poe-Llamanzares to the Senate Electoral Tribunal and the Bureau of Immigration, the
following are the facts that refer to the argument that Grace Poe-Llamanzares’ residence in
relation to her candidacy for President does not meet the 10 year residency requirement: The
Presidential Election is on May 2009, in order to abide by the residency requirement, she should
have been a Filipino by May 9, 2006. On May 2006, she was still a US citizen staying in the
country. On July 2006 and thereafter, she stayed in the country as a dual citizen. On May 2016,
she will only have a period of residence of at most nine years and 10 months which is two
months short of the constitutional requirement of 10 year residency. Thus, using inductive
reasoning, if the Constitution requires the 10 year residency for people running for President,
then all people, including Grace Poe should be disqualified to run for the Presidency.
The Supreme Court stated that there is more than ample evidence that Grace Poe-
Llamanzares is a natural-born Filipino. It also said that she has met the 10-year residency
requirement to be qualified to run for presidency. However, in analyzing the facts of the case,
using legal reasoning, one may see some flaws in the decision and may say that Grace Poe-
Llamanzares is not qualified to run for presidency because she is not a natural-born Filipino
citizen and has not met the 10-year residency requirement as required by the law.
References:

Lamond, Grant. “Precedent and Analogy in Legal Reasoning.” Jun 20, 2006. Retrieved from
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/legal-reas-prec/

Marcos v. COMELEC. September 18, 1995. G.R. No. 119976

Republic Act No. 9225 known as the "Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003"