Amid the APEC hoopla, an execrable Senate vote

41

The last time our senators took a vote on May 29, 2012, after taking an oath to render “impartial justice,” they convicted and removed Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona on the basis of questionable evidence on a non-impeachable charge, after having been impeached at the behest of Malacañang by188 congressmen who never read the Articles of Impeachment they had signed.

Nineteen of the 20 senator-judges each received P50 million or more from Malacañang’s P150-billion Disbursement Acceleration Program, which the Supreme Court subsequently declared unconstitutional, and for which grave misconduct Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, among others, is now facing criminal charges before the Ombudsman.

The senators committed a despicable crime, for which not a single one of them has been prosecuted until now. Some of the nineteen have since left the Senate, some others are still there and running for reelection or for higher office in May 2016.

On Tuesday, Nov. 17, while the nation was being entertained by all the government hoopla for the APEC Economic Leaders Summit, six senators, three of whom were among the 19 senator-judges who had been paid off three years ago to remove the country’s highest judiciary official, took another vote. This time, on a complaint before the nine-man Senate Electoral Tribunal questioning the right of Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares to sit in the Senate, for her not being a natural-born Filipino citizen and for having failed to meet the residency requirement of at least two years immediately preceding the May 2013 elections.


The six senators on the SET are old timers Vicente Sotto 3rd, Loren Legarda and Pia Cayetano, and newcomers Nancy Binay, Cynthia Villar and Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino, first cousin to President B. S. Aquino 3rd. The old-timers have yet to wash the grime off their hands or face from the Corona impeachment scandal.

Except for Binay, who voted with the SET chairman Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Justices Arturo Brion and Teresita Leonardo de Castro, who found Mrs. Llamanzares ineligible to sit in the Senate for not being a natural-born Filipino and not having lived in the country as such Filipino for at least two years before the 2013 election, the five other senators voted not according to the Constitution and the law and the documented facts of the case, but for reasons known only to themselves and having nothing to do with the merits of the case.

They acted as a cabal. There is no evidence, so far, that anyone got paid for their vote. So until the evidence presents itself, or surfaces from a credible source, we must reject any precocious suggestion that one well-known CEO of a conglomerate who seems determined to own the next president bankrolled Mrs. Llamanzares’s paper-thin temporary victory.

I say “temporary” because the SET ruling suffers from an obvious “grave abuse of discretion” on the part of the five senators who chose to “politicize” what is indisputably a constitutional issue. The existing jurisprudence tells us that the Supreme Court will not countenance this kind of political mumbo-jumbo. I expect petitioner Rizalito David to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, after filing a Motion for Reconsideration, which the SET majority will most likely deny.

I do not want to second-guess the Court, but it cannot possibly stray from the constitutional parameters of the case. The issues are simple enough. Under Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution, no person shall be a Senator unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, and, on the day of the election, is at least thirty-five years of age, able to read and write, a registered voter, and a resident of the Philippines for not less than two years immediately preceding the day of the election.

The provision is written in simple elementary English. Anyone who understands every word in it should be able to understand the whole provision itself. You don’t need a degree in law or in English from anywhere to understand it. Now, in how many opposite ways can two opposing lawyers, or a cabal of senators, understand this very clear provision which does not need to be interpreted?

Only one, it appears. The provision says “no person shall be a Senator unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines…” What does this mean, and how are we to understand it? This is what it means: “No person shall be a Senator unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.” But what is a natural-born Filipino citizen? That is what we have to find out.

But Section 2 Article IV of the Constitution tells us what it means: “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. Those born before January 17, 1973 of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority, shall be deemed natural-born citizens.”

In how many different ways can we understand what this section means? Only one, it appears. The law is clear, it’s only a question of facts. Mrs. Llamanzares offers two certificates of live birth, two sets of facts. One contradicts the other, both are technically defective.

The first certificate, dated Nov. 27, 1968, and with heavy intercalactions, says a foundling named Mary Grace Natividad Contreras Militar was found in the premises of the parish church of Jaro, Iloilo City on Sept. 3, 1968. Its parents were unknown. Therefore their citizenship was unknown, and the foundling’s citizenship was unknown. In other words, stateless. On the right hand side of the certificate is a notation by hand which says, “Adopted child by the spouses Ronald Allan Poe and Jesusa Sonora Poe as per Court Order, Mun. Court, San Juan, Rizal by …Judge Alfredo U. Gorgonio dated May 13, 1974 under Sp. Proc. 138.”

The document is obviously falsified. If it was executed on Nov. 27, 1968, how could it possibly carry a notation about Mary Grace’s alleged adoption on May 13, 1974? The document speaks for itself.

The second certificate, dated May 4, 2006, was executed by Mrs. Jesusa Sonora Poe, who is identified in the Nov. 27, 1968 document as the spouse of Ronald Allan Poe, who adopted Mary Grace in 1974. But this 2006 certificate says Mary Grace was born to Jesusa Sonora Poe and Ronald Allan Poe on Sept. 3, 1968. The couple were married on Dec. 25, 1968, and Mrs. Poe was never known to have borne a child nor carried a pregnancy all her life.

So no evidence was presented to show that Mrs. Llamanzares was a Filipino at birth who did not have to perform any act to acquire or perfect her citizenship. Therefore the decision of the five senators to declare her qualified to sit in the Senate has no basis in law or in fact.

As to her two-year residency prior to the 2013 election, the dates could be computed using a computer or one’s fingers and toes. Whatever method is used, it doesn’t quite add up in favor of Mrs. Llamanzares. How the five senators arrived at their conclusion in her favor requires a new math.

For a while, I was thinking Tito Sotto would inhibit from the voting, having declared himself an “independent senatorial candidate” under the “independent presidential candidacy” of Mrs. Llamanzares. I was disappointed at my own naivete for having thought even for the moment that this was a remote possibility within the realm of our highly unprincipled politics.

But what’s impossible to explain was Bam Aquino’s vote. If he got to the Senate because of his cousin PNoy, and as LP titular head and chief campaigner for Mar Roxas, PNoy would like to see Mrs. Llamanzares out of the presidential race, for the same reason SET petitioner Rizalito David wants her unseated from the Senate, shouldn’t he have voted in favor of the Constitution, together with Binay and the Justices? Is it too soon to speculate that despite his open statements for Mar Roxas, PNoy is secretly playing the Grace Poe Llamanzares card?

My own fear now is that if there is any chance for the May 2016 elections to become a legitimate and honest process, and for our voters to begin to understand the implications of the SET vote to the integrity of the senators who took part in it, Sotto’s chances of being returned to the Senate may have been completely vaporized, despite any effort to connect to AlDub’s popularity at the noontime TV variety show, Eat Bulaga.

To those who have sent queries, I would like to say the SET ruling has nothing at all to do with my petition before the Commission on Elections for Mrs. Llamanzares’s disqualification as presidential candidate, as well as the two other petitions seeking the cancellation of her certificate of candidacy. So it’s too early for Mrs. Llamanzares to jump for joy or uncork the champagne or open the San Mig, and for the campaign donors to rush to the aid and comfort of the American husband, Mr Llamanzares.

fstatad@gmail.com

Share.
.
Loading...

Please follow our commenting guidelines.

41 Comments

  1. What is the use of the constitution if we donot follow it? The will of the people should not always be the basis. There will be anarchy if we dont follow it. For BAM AQUINO so young and so corrupt. I thought you will make a difference.

  2. Early on I really believe that Grace Poe is Noy’s ace neatly stacked in his chest. He knew that his candidate will not win, no chance of winning. The previous pronouncements of Noy and LP are ‘Moro-moro’ only. She will save Noy after out of power and Malacanang!

  3. Ang nakikita kong typical na ugali ng Filipino politician – pag wala pa sila poder alam na alam nila ang batas at memorize na memorize nila ng batas. Pero pag nahalal na sila – forget na ang batas – ang importante – may personal na profit sa mga ano mang gagawin nila…
    In short – 98% na Filipino political leaders mga BASURA!!!!

  4. Yes, that is true, no need for any one to be an english teacher to be able to discern what the constitution says, its just simle as that.
    Now, I am hoping for CJ Renato Corona to appeal for the reversal of judgement before a new Senate and a none Liberal Party President, either Meriam or Jojo be the next President on the grounds that his rights was violated without due process in the House of Representatives and that his conviction of the previous senate is none impeachable offense be given due course and to restore his rights and privileges and that his retirement benifits as retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court be given to him.
    This is to correct the injustice committed by the no E.Q. President.

  5. i strongly believe that the 5 senators decided based on the moral side. what is legal might not be moral. wag natin apihin ang pulot!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • The five senators have shallow minds, I mean scatterbrains that is…Why because they don’t believed in the Philippine Constitution and therefore they themselves aren’t true Filipinos. They are fake!

  6. Bam’ vote favoring Poe is just a plain strategy by LP so that they will not be accused of demolition against Poe….and that they will hurl their accusation to Binay for being the one…

    Also, LP knows Poe will be disqualified either or both by Comelec and SC.

    So through Bam’s vote….nakapagpa-pogi ang LP especially Mar….

    Two birds in one shot, ika nga….1) people will think Binay ang may pakana sa disqualification at demolition kay Poe….2) naging santo ang LP at pumogi naman si Mar….

  7. AMID THE APEC “HOOLA-BADOOLA”

    The PCOS-machines installed Grace Poe as a Philippine senator… amid of her distasteful and unsought accomplishment of Chairmanship of the Senate Investigation on Mamasapano SAF-44 massacres incident where she defended and absolves a (PNoy-Tyrant) in Malacanang instead of delivering the true justice for the grieving SAF loved ones. How do you expect her to serve the nation truthfully?

    It is not her “Unsubstantiated” desires to serve the nation as the condition of fact why her stupefied Colleagues in the senate voted to render “Ineligible” the merit of “disqualification” case hurled against Grace Poe, purposely to secure a Plan: A and Plan: B in case Mar Roxas flunk out of the presidential race.

  8. You claim that the law particularly about foundlings, are written in plain english and could be understood by anyone even without a degree in law. Yet lawyers debate about laws giving different interpretations. So your claim may not be totally valid.

  9. Yong limang senator na bumoto in favor of Madam Grace, maliwanag na may katangahan sila. Sorry poe sa termino. According to Supreme Court , if you took oath of allegiance and become Citizen to a foreign country, you lost your domicile or Your Natural Born Citizenship. Yan ang pagkaintidi ko.Ganiyan ang nangyari kay madam Grace, By her choice, she took oath of Allegiance and become US Citizen. Walana yong Pagka Filipino Citizenship niya. Then, later, nagapply for dual citizenship and afterward renounced her US Citizenship to become a Filipino Citizen Again.Ang tawag natin ay ( Naturalized Filipino Citizen.) Kung hindi sana nagiging US Citizen at American Immigrant or green card lang, she did not loss her Domicile or Natural Born Filipino Citizenship at puwede siyang kumandidato.

    Founding man siya o hindi, adopted man siya o hindi . Kaya kung ang kaso niya pupunta sa Supreme Court, kahit milyong magdasal .. talagang matiwalag siya.

    Kaya kayong 5 senator na bumoto sa kaniya, Palawakin niyo ang kukuti niyo para hindi kayo katawatawa sa publiko.

  10. Mr. Tatad, the SET’s decision is already a good and strong case precedent for other cases Poe is facing with the COMELEC and later on the Supreme Court.

    SECTION 1. The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.

    In the end the SC will still follow the people’s mandate like in FPJ’s case in 2004. Vox populi, vox dei!

  11. apolonio reyes on

    Sen. Kit Tatad, Can David and others who filed a case against GPL file a case against the five, Sen. Tito Sotto, Sen. Pia Cayetano, Sen. Loren Legarda, Sen. Cythia Villar and Sen. Bam Aquino for violation of the CONSTITUTION which the swear to depend or at least INGNORANCE OF THE LAW AND TREASON?
    I was watching Mitos Magsaysay tv program “Libertas ” last night when a texter said ” Pnoy has two candidate for presidents, Mar Roxas and Grace Poe Llamanzares (GPL) , to insure that he will be well protected after June 30, 2016 and you will see this how Sen. Bam Aquino voted to save GPL ” .
    This morning GPL and Chiz announced in Bulacan that they will continue the good program in the ” TUWID NA DAAN ” of Pnoy.
    Do you see and connect the dots, Sen. Kit Tatad?

  12. Senator Sotto, the plagiarist and
    comedian of a noontime show.
    What can we expect from him?
    He should stick to his comedian
    image and, not as a senator.He’s
    a shame at the senate.

  13. I just thought Pia Cayetano is better than that. Bam Aquino, you are a disgrace to the Aquino’s.

  14. I look forward to the day when the senators who voted guilty in the impeachment of CJ Renato Corona on the strength of DAP money be hailed in court. And it should be double whammy for Senators Cayetano, Legarda and Sotto. They are double whammy disgrace to the senate. They have been in the senate for too long and have done nothing significant to impact the lives of the people. The Filipino people have over paid them over and over.

    • the 3 you mentioned senators are not repeat NOT LAWMAKERS. THEY ARE IN THE HABIT OF LAWBREAKING. THEY DID IT BEFORE IN THE CORONA IMPEACHMENT (COURTESY OF THE DAP??) AND DID IT AGAIN RECENTLY. i also wondered why they chose to be LAWBREAKERS ESPECIALLY CAYETANO, AQUINO AND VILLAR. could it be because of san mig beer served as refreshments during the deliberations?? as to sotto, what can you expect?? he is showbiz and should never have been elected as senator. is he gunning for a 4th term this 2016?? during his 1st 2 terms, he was supported by aiza and now on his 4th, by aldub?? HEAVEN help us.

    • Is that sotto that senator involved in that case where he supposedly sold to a certain rico a BMW whose gauges were tampered to make it appear as if it is still “low mileage”? If my memory serves me right, that sotto has not cleared himself yet of the dishonesty despite using the power of his office to solve his non-legislative imbroglio.

  15. Whatever we need to do something about climate change we are sick and tired of yearly flooding here in Kalibo and Numancia Aklan

  16. Leodegardo Pruna on

    Once again, P-Noy and his men led by A BAD man would do majic. Mar will suddenly find himself out of the LOOP and Leni trashed in the can. The “tuwid na daan” would unwind to “huwad na daan”. The hocus-PCOS would again be at work. The people of the Philippines should wake up otherwise we shall surprisingly find ourselves led by one who is arrogant, overly ambitious, and disGRACEd for lying to the teeth. Mar cannot find comfort on anybody. Mar cannot rely on “daang matuwid”, he should be his own man. LP stands for “Lokohang Partido”. God bless the Philippines.

  17. The Senate is corrupt, not likely they will suddenly start acting like representatives and protectors of the constitution. Once Llamanzares gave the SAF 44 report to the Ombudsman i figured she was in Aquino’s pocket.

  18. Damn these senators for not following the constitution mandates!!

    If I had my way, I would like them and the other senators to face the firing squad for all the abuses that they have levied on us.

    When can all of them be gone?

    • So when do you think we should start making them face the firing squad? Will you join the firing squad?

  19. Ruben V. Calip on

    I’m praying that your petition, and those of others, will win in the Court and in the Comelec. Thank you for writing incisive articles, Mr. Tatad.

  20. I never voted for Senators Bam Aquino,Villar and Pia Cayetano ,they are the epitome of evil dynastic politics in our country but they deserve my profound admiration for crossing party lines.A vote against Grace Poe from anyone of them could have obliterated the sovereign will of the people to decide on May 2016 if Poe deserve to lead this nation or not. Mr. Tatad spewed venom to Grace Poe’s candidacy never considering that the ultimate judge to all these diatribes will be the filipino voters themselves.Im sure Mr.Tatad will rant on the latest Pulse Asia survey showing Poe maintaining her momentum,his worst nightmare if he fails on his driving compulsion to disqualify her and prevent us from deciding on 2016.
    /

    • you are missing the point, it is not the person llamanzares that is being questioned by tatad, it is her citezenship and her residency. llamanzares could be the greatest president this bugbog sarado nation could have BUT if she is an american, the constitution cannot be thrown away just for her. if you and supporters of llamanzares, including llamanzares herself, work on the correction of the constitution to change its definition of the term natural born citizen then everything will be in order. for sure you do not want to part of the lawbreakers, don’t you???

    • So you are saying is that we just throw the constitution to the garbage can? If that is the case, then we can also forget having an election and might as well be governed by the power of the gun.

    • Don’t rely on the people, they aren’t wise and they don’t know what they are voting for. That’s why this country didn’t move forward to progress, we will remain forever poor. Only a messiah a just man will help us out of our miseries. Pray for that man he will come sooner.

  21. There you go…Binay. must excert more effort, promote Mar, and build ground door to door grass root level campaign, to persuade voters on his ability to govern. Its never late to do this as the elections are still morethan five months to go, while keeping a close eye on the comelec…Pacquio should be near him always if possible in his tour to the country….If the supper pack of Grace Poe says sky is the limit…Binay supper pack says ‘up to the last centavo’.

  22. 1. The SET decision by the 5 senators is clearly based on politics and not on the merits of the case. What an abomination! Imagine, these senators are members of the legislative branch. In theory, they are in the senate to enact laws. Yet they are the first to ignore and throw the Philippine Constitution into the shredder. Come the appropriate election time, I hope the electorate will not forget their disgraceful and self-serving conduct.

    2. As a newcomer to the senate, I thought that Senator “Bam” Aquino would still possess enough moral integrity so as to be objective and unbiased. And surely, he knows the English language? But he turned out to be just another “trapo”. What a shame! I agree with the suspicion that he and his cousin PNOY are secret supporters of Mrs. Grace Poe Llamanzares. Let us not forget that PNOY wanted Mrs. Llamanzares to be Mar Roxas’ VP candidate. As Bam is their campaign manager, Mar and Rep. Leni Robredo should be on guard and watchful of this guy. He is ambitious and has his eye on the main chance. He even engages in self-deception by saying he voted based on the principle of “daang matuwid”. Well, if anyone here believes that claim, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

    3. The votes of Senators Legarda, Cayetano, Sotto and Villar were not unexpected. Based on their past history and various public pronouncements, it was clear where they stood. Together with Bam and Mrs. Llamanzares, one of the things that revealed the opportunism of these senators was their sudden and convenient concern for “foundlings”. Why did they not care and do something in the senate about foundlings before?

    4. The unanimous votes of that the three SC associate justices is very significant as the case will eventually be decided on legal grounds by the Supreme Court.
    The fourth vote, that of Senator Nancy Binay, may or may not be politically motivated. But at least, she voted in accordance with the Philippine Constitution.

  23. mr. tatad, i recall that as a former senator you were the movant in preventing the opening of the so-called second envelope during the impeachment trial of former president estrada

    • Will you join the movement to arrest and jail those senators if ever a movement in that direction suddenly surfaces before the end of this year?

  24. If Noynoy is playing secretly the Grace Poe card, Noynoy can influence also Comelec to have a decision in favor of Poe.

  25. I dont think I can trust an article written by somebody who filed a case against the senator. Yes sir, our constitution says NBF are those who are born from at least one Fil parents. But how do you expect a foundling, somebody who was totally abandoned, find their parents in a country with 100 m people to prove they are natural-born? We do not have a specific law for foundlings, Mar’s grandfather said we do not need to because it is covered in our consitution that we do follow intenational law.

    REPLY
    Please stop ignorantly repeating the SPIN of Grace POe and her lawyers that foundllings are covered by international law. THere is no such thing! The Philippines did not sign the so-called covenant about foundlings. And it is not true that any state MUST follow what the UN decides! That is propaganda made by those who wish the UN to replace the CHURCHES and the individual CONSCIENCES of HUMAN BEINGS.

  26. What else is new about Sotto? Nothing except that he is guilty of plagiarism, no brains, one who cannot face any debate against topnotch lawyers (pre-martial law days), his IQ is only good for Eat Bulaga. And what happens to Pepsi? Ask him. I just don’t exactly comprehend how the stupid Filipino voters vote for this kind of person. Then comes next, Alma Moreno. Kawawang Pilipinas.

  27. I sincerely believe that there was indeed an abused of discretion on part of senators judges in SET but unlike an impeachment court this can be elevated in the Supreme Court for final arbitration. Grace Poe will still have to hurdle her disqualifications cases in the COMELEC which all commissioners are all lawyers. But I still have my doubt on the integrity of its Chairman which came from Cojuangco FEU before his stint at the PCCG. The usages of Grace Poe American passport up to 2010 will definetely a losing point unless the commissioners will be persuaded to rule otherwise. It is still the Supreme Court Justices pride which is at stake from hereon.

  28. Indeed, what those 5 senators did was a grave abuse of power discretion, to the extent of trashing the Constitution. I would like to hear their individual reasoning. Sotto, the plagiarist, cannot probably even last through a 5 minute speech originating from his own intellect. He is nothing but a showbiz personality, only becoming even more popular with the class E voters especially with his Eat Bulaga. What a shame! Don’t even bother to ask me about the biased Legarda. I hope Cayetano will explain her judgement process being the only lawyer in those dissidents because I cannot fathom whatever that will be other than plain political posturing since her brother is running for election. This whole SET decision makes me think of the millions of Filipinos who went to school, worked hard to pass their tests, burned candles to study for the board exams, in hopes of passing them and eventually qualifying for a job that they have to go through by rigorous interviews, are being made a complete mockery because someone like Llamanzares can easily pass and circumvent the law due to powerful influence. What kind of message is that?