When it rains, it pours.
A 4th petition seeking to disqualify pre-election survey frontrunner, Sen. Grace Poe, from participating in next year’s presidential derby was filed on Tuesday with the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Antonio Contreras, a political science professor, sought the cancelation of Poe’s certificate of candidacy (COC).
Like the previous disqualification cases, the latest case assailed Poe’s residency.
According to Contreras, the senator fails to meet the 10-year residency requirement mandated by the 1987 Constitution for candidates for President.
He argued that if Poe reacquired her citizenship in July 2006, she would be two months short of the requirement (10 years).
The Contreras complaint followed the cases filed by radio commentator Rizalito David, lawyer Estrella Elamparo and former senator Francisco Tatad.
Poe, daughter of the late actor Fernando Poe Jr. and actress Susan Roces, filed her COC for President last Thursday.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said the disqualification cases against Poe would be consolidated by the Comelec’s 2nd Division.
Bautista assured that all the disqualification cases would be decided before the 2016 elections to avoid the specter of disqualifying a President-elect.
“I do not know what will happen if somebody is disqualified after being elected President.
That is why I asked the en banc to act fast because we know fully well that our decision is still appealable to the Supreme Court,” he said. “The earlier we decide, the better for our election process and for our democracy
Poe, an ally of President Benigno Aquino 3rd, was the latter’s original choice to team up with Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel Roxas 2nd.
She rejected the offer to become the administration party’s vice presidential candidate as she banked on her strong survey numbers where she leads pre-election polls for presidential and vice presidential preference.
Contreras did not give copies of his petition but explained that it was only grounded on the failure of Poe to comply with the minimum 10-year residency status required by the Constitution.
“She said that she has been a resident of the Philippines for 10 years and 11 months when we all know that that she only became a Filipino citizen on July 18, 2006. To complete the 10 years, she should have been a citizen on May 9, 2006 but she only re-acquired [her Filipino citizenship]on July 18,” he said in Filipino.
“We must remember that on May 9 , she is still an American citizen, she has not reacquired her Filipino citizenship because she only renounced [her American citizenship]in 2001. So what’s her status? She is a foreigner,” Contreras added.
He explained that for a foreigner to become a resident, one needs to register at the Bureau of Immigration his or her resident alien status, which Poe, according to Martinez, did not do.
The petitioner pointed out that Poe’s motion to reacquire Filipino citizenship did not indicate an immigration certificate of residence (ICR) or an alien certificate of registration (ACR), which is given to foreigners who are permanent residents of the country.
“It means that she applied on July 7, 2006, that was already passed May 9, 2006, she has no ICR and so, she is not a permanent resident. She did not waive her non-resident alien status. In fact, I would assume, I’m not sure, she was probably on a balikbayan [Filipino returnee] status because a balikbayan has a one year visa-free stay,” Contreras said.
He added that Poe’s assertion of having complied with the 10-year residency requirement using her tax income number (TIN) as evidence would not stand.
“The TIN which she acquired in 2005 was used to settle the estate of his father and you know very well that in the Philippines even if you are not a Filipino, if you’re father is a Filipino and you inherited something you have to pay taxes for that. You know very well that you can’t pay taxes without a TIN. So a TIN is not a strong evidence that you are already a resident,” Contreras said.
When asked why he was questioning the citizenship of Poe, he explained that while it is a valid ground, he finds it cruel to declare Poe as stateless, considering that she was a foundling.
Dick weighs in
Former senator Richard “Dick” Gordon on Tuesday disclosed that both the Liberal Party and the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) had asked him to file a disqualification case against Poe.
“I was approached by members of UNA, some members of the Liberal Party, some of my schoolmates in UP [University of the Philippines], some of my friends… In fairness to them, there is a case but leave it be. It can be decided by the Supreme Court either way. It can decide vox populi suprema lex–the people have spoken and therefore that is the
fundamental law,” Gordon told the ABS-CBN News Channel.
“But I’m not interested in getting it from the backdoor. I want to make sure that the people realize that if they’re going to have a country, if they will have real leaders, they have to have honest-to-goodness, clean, fair elections. You don’t have that right now. The field is not level,” he said.
Gordon is running for senator as a guest candidate of UNA and in Poe’s independent slate.
Thirteenth in the 2013 mid-term elections, he will be eligible to sit in the Senate if Poe is disqualified by the Senate Electoral Tribunal, which is hearing a disqualification case filed by Rizalito David against Poe.
With Jefferson Antiporda