• David vs Poe: No more room for evasion


    SECTION 17, article VI of the 1987 Constitution provides the explicit procedure and the body that will hear and judge all contests or questions regarding the qualifications of members of Congress. It reads:

    “THE Senate and the House of Representatives shall each have an Electoral Tribunal which shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of their respective members. Each electoral tribunal shall be composed of nine members, three of whom shall be justices of the Supreme Court to be designated by the chief justice, and the remaining six shall be members of the Senate or the House of Representatives, as the case may be, who shall be chosen on the basis of proportional representation from political parties and the parties or organizations registered under the party-list system represented therein. The senior justice in the electoral tribunal shall be its chairman.”

    It is this provision that the nation must now turn to in hearing and resolving the questions about Sen. Grace Poe’s alleged lack of qualifications (concerning citizenship and residency) for membership in the Senate.

    In settling this question, the Senate electoral tribunal will also resolve whether Ms. Poe is qualified to run for president or vice-president in the May 2016 election.

    A forthright hearing of facts

    By filing a quo warranto petition with the SET questioning Senator Poe’s qualifications to sit in the Senate, Radio commentator Rizalito David has done the deed that many of us have long been expecting and hoping for. He has opened the door for an honest and forthright hearing and determination of the facts and the issues concerning Ms. Poe’s background. This can bring to an end the wide-ranging debate and speculations about her, which have raged over the past few months and left many transfixed and frustrated.

    Of Mr. David’s own background, there isn’t much to tell other than that he is a radio commentator and sometime socio-political analyst, was a candidate for senator in the 2013 elections, and that he served at one time as a former legislative research officer of Sen. Francisco Tatad, when my Times colleague served in the Senate.

    Who encouraged David to file the petition, or helped him raise the P50,000 filing fee is irrelevant to the validity of the petition. The interesting point is that many people, according to David, contributed to the filing fee.

    In his quo warranto petition, David argued that Poe is ineligible to hold a Senate seat because she is a foundling and, therefore, not a “natural-born citizen.” The 1987 Constitution requires senators to be natural-born Filipinos.

    From what has already been published in the press and reported in the media, there is evidently substantial basis for David’s petition. Pundits, private lawyers and academics have come up with detailed statements that laid out their belief that Ms. Poe should be unseated in the Senate, and that she cannot run for certain offices in the 2016 elections.

    Related to this is also the allegation that Ms. Poe was not qualified and was illegally appointed as chairman of the MTRCB or censors board in 2010, because he was an American citizen at the time.

    This is a difficult case because the Senator is very popular with the Filipino public, and, if surveys can be believed, she enjoys a high favorability rating with the populace.
    Without doubt, she will mount her defense or counterattack along this line of being first in the hearts of her countrymen.

    The electoral tribunal must not evade the issue, because this is a matter concerning the rule of law, and rule of law has been one of the things that the Aquino administration has repeatedly violated during the last five years.

    In grasping the nettle of Poe’s status and qualifications as a sitting senator and a prospective candidate in the 2016 elections, the SET must turn the discussion into an examination of (1) original principles concerning qualifications for high public office, and (2) records of Ms Poe’s birth, parentage, and citizenship in two countries.

    Popularity as a defense

    In reacting to the petition, Senator Poe has predictably defended herself by invoking the number of votes that elected her to the Senate. She declared her intent to fight off any attempt to unseat her from the Senate and keep her out of next year’s elections.

    “I believe that I am not alone in this fight. I have my countrymen as my inspiration especially the more than 20 million Filipinos who elected me to the Senate. They are the reason why I am here and it is only proper to fight for their decision,” she said.

    Continuing, she explained: “I am actually relieved that a petition has been filed so that I can answer the questions on my citizenship and residency. It is an opportunity for the truth to come out and for this issue to be resolved once and for all.”

    Finally, she offered an assurance that she is Filipino by birth and by choice. “I assure the 20 million plus fellow Filipinos who voted for me, as well as the rest of the country, that their confidence in me is not misplaced. I remain truthful to our countrymen. I am a Filipino by birth, abode and choice.”

    As an infant, Ms. Poe was reportedly found abandoned in a holy water font at the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral in Iloilo.

    In his petition, Mr. David contended: “Being a foundling, her parents are not known and cannot be presumed as Filipino citizens, hence she cannot claim or acquire the status of a natural-born citizen.”

    Defense based on a heresy

    Ms. Poe’s defense of invoking her votes in 2013 and popularity needs rethinking if she is going to win this battle.

    The appeal to popularity and numbers is a political heresy, to quote another lady, who made a big name for herself in politics, former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
    Thatcher said: “The desire for justice imposes very firm requirements on the politician. First, a recognition that he can never be above the law.

    “Justice also requires those in public life to repudiate a number of fashionable heresies.

    “The first heresy is that if only a determined minority gather together in large enough numbers to bully or intimidate others, the law either will not, or cannot, be enforced against them. The inference is not only that there is safety in numbers but that this brings with it some kind of immunity from the legal process. It does not.”
    Strong words indeed from the Iron lady.

    A violation of the Constitution cannot be wiped away by votes, or PCOS votes in Ms. Poe’s case.



    Please follow our commenting guidelines.


    1. I ask Rizalito David – “if you were a foundling would you rather that the Philippines threw you into the trash can?” It is always easy to find fault or deficiency on others without first asking -“What if I happened to be in the same situation? To declare Grace Poe as stateless is just splitting hair without consideration to human nature. International Law recognized the need to act more humane in situation where a baby is left helpless anywhere in the world. So, international comity to which the Philippines is a signatory too considered Grace Poe as a Filipino citizen because she was abandoned by her mother in a church in Jaro, perhaps because she was so helpless in a country of heartless people so she left the faith of her daughter to God. By signing that international treaty it could be applied as suppletory to our Constitution without the need for amendment.

    2. Araceli Carbonell on

      Mrs grace Llamazares tried hard to defend herself as qualified to run for the highest position of the land based on the 20 million votes she garnered in the last election for the senate. But she failed to realize that such popularity was because she capitalized on the popular ICON FERNANDO POE JR WHO WAS CHEATED FOR HIS PRESIDENTIAL BID. Had she used her current official name, Llamanzarez, would she be able to win 20 million votes for the senate? Indeed, she seemed to have dementia to forget that she was just riding on the popularity of FPJ. she is an opportunist, dishonest and ambitious for power!!!

    3. Just because she was elected by 20 million voters she can violate the constitution? It’s clear she is a US citizen and lacks of residency to be a senator. Disqualify her as senator that the best decision.

    4. I believe it is wrong to argue that we should let matters be as it were just because she was elected with the highest votes when she ran for a senate seat. The question about her citizenship and residency was not put forth then, but it is now. Are we not a nation of laws? The Aguinaldo doctrine I believe also cannot be invoked here. This is not an administrative case. It is about the most basic laws of the land as enshrined in our Constitution. If supposed national “leaders” cannot uphold our basic law, how can we expect the common tao to uphold the same. But I am no lawyer, so go figure.

    5. Grace Poe Luminzares biggest blunder is , if found to have
      violated the residency qualification and citizenship requirement , than the 20 million voters that made her win the senate seat had been fooled all along! But we will never know until she really presents all her documentation and be validated by Philippines and America.
      And Yes , what about her children and husband who are all American Citizen,
      assuming she does becomes President , Will the Filipino’s be proud to have that kind of mix up family to be the First Family in our own Presidential Home?
      We really have to ponder more on this!

      I believe we need to uphold the Integrity of our Leaders and National Hero’s that Pledge allegiance only to the Philippine Flag who served and died defending the only Country they love.

      • how can poe-ppet use the excuse that she was voted by 20 million voters. was she sure that if she divulged her true status of her citizenship these voters would have voted for her?? ano gusto nyang gamitin impliedly the ‘aguinaldo doctrine’ that she voted into office thus her crime is now extinguished. ITONG TAONG ITO ANG HUMAHAMON KAY BINOY NA MAGPAKATOTOO AT HARAPIN ANG KANYANG KASO SA SENADO. pero itinago ang kanyang pagbasura sa batas at konstitusyon ng pilipinas na sinasabi nyang gusto nyang paglikuran. dapat siguro kasuhan din sya sa pagtangap nya ng posisyong mtcrb chair. tumangap sya ng sweldo at mga benepisyo na hindi ibinibigay sa mga taong banyaga na katulad nya. mukhang nauto sya ni cheat screwdero sa mga payong ibinigay sa kanya.

    6. qualified to run for prez according to ph law…..if ms poe decides to run as ph prez and won, this is a repeat of 2010 presidential election. the first one, unqualified because of his mental health issue (tinago lang), the second one because of her citizenship issue. wala na ba talagang iba pagpipilian pa maliban sa mga ito, poe, roxas, binay, among 100m na pinoy?

      • dapat siguro may mag suporta ng pinansyal kila gordon o gibo o duterte at pati na rin kay makoy jr. para may pagpilian naman tayong iba. walang mapipili sa mga kandidatong pumapapel na. yung isa, matalino daw pero walang ibinuga at puro kapalpakan sa 2 departamentong hinawakan, yung isa korap daw at yung isa na walang alam ay amerikano pala. goodness gracious, great balls of fire

    7. Poe could not use her winning the senatorial seat as an absolution in her case. This is entirely different from winning a seat despite charges in courts. With the latter the voters are fully aware of the alleged demeanors or crimes while in her case there might be deception for failing to reveal her true circumstance, that is if indeed she was an American citizen during her MRTC or lacking in the residency requirement as a senatorial candidate

      • That “Aguinaldo doctrine” has so much nonsense in its logic. But I agree with your other point — the “Aguinaldo doctrine” has no relevance for the Poe/Llamanzares eligibility questions.
        And Pinoys of Pilipinas have different genetics and bloodline source (different from Anglo-Saxons ) but nonetheless, the words of Margaret Thatcher (printed in the article) do echo a very important point about law and constitutionality.

    8. The question Ma POE are you an American citizen when you accepted the chairmanship of MTRCB ? When did you re acquire Filipino citizenship? When did you surrender your US passport and when did US accepted your renounciation of US citizenship?

    9. I cannot totally understand the real reason of those who are questioning the citizenship of Sen, Poe, Is it for nationalism or a coverup of their fear for her popularity and acceptability by the people and voters alike.

      • because she portrays herself to be righteous, one who does not lie. Well it shows that she lied and was an american citizen when appointed to mtrcb. and not qualified to run for senator due to residency issue. she might have relocated back to the philippines in 2004, but she was still an american citizen. she should have renounced her american citizenship in 2004 so that she can be qualified to run for the presidency. Like what her mother said ” ang kapatid ng sinungaling ay magnanakaw. “

    10. The argument of being a natural born ‘Filipino’ citizen, can be summed up as anyone born on Philippines soil, a child by a natural ‘Filipino’ parents – a foundling may have been born anywhere in Philippines, but could be a child of a foreigner, abandoned mainly for reasons that only the father or mother of the child knows.

      So, the circumstances surrounding the mysterious discovery, cannot be substantial so as to indicate that Grace Llamanzares is a natural born ‘Filipino’ citizen, by birthright she remains an alien although adopted by a Filipino family – a search on birthright, Philippines is listed as one of nations not grant birthright citizenship.

    11. I believe the real issue on Grace Poe is why did she took her oath to be American and renounce her Filipino citizenship. Grace Poe studied college in Boston and during her stay was using a student visa. Her known parents FPJ and Susan can afford the tuition and board and lodging. When Grace Poe got married to an American she automatically got an immigrant visa. Holding an immigrant visa Grace Poe enjoy all the amenities of US citizen except the right to vote. Grace can remain an immigrant in American for the rest of her life because the there is no laws that restrict her for being one. When Grace opted to be American citizen she did renounce her being Filipino and took an oath under the American flag to be citizen. If this act that Grace Poe did was because she love our country then we should stop teaching our national oath Panatang Makabayan. On the technicalities of our laws Grace Poe can probably get away with it. Papayag ba tayo na maging Pangulo ng ating bansa si Grace Poe na minsan ng tinalikuran Ang lupang sinilangan?

    12. Vic Penetrante on

      ‘The appeal to popularity and numbers’ is not ‘political heresy’ but election.

      • Teddy Sevilla on

        In the Philippines, it is official doctrine – the Aguinaldo doctrine. Being elected absolves one from past administrative transgressions.

    13. a cia mole becoming president of Republic of Philippines!!!? Very very scary indeed. May the Almighty God help us!

    14. I am not a lawyer to say this, this is a case between the will of the people versus the law. I understand and analyze carefully the 1987 constitution regarding CITIZENSHIP and candidates for president qualifications and requirements. To all opinions i have red, all of them arrived in one conclusion: Senator Grace Poe Llamanzares is not qualified to run for president. BUT Senator Poe Llamanzares has the right to defend and prove herself that in fact she is a filipino citizen and stayed in the philippines for at least ten years. How about the 20 million filipinos who voted her as senator in 2010? as a saying goes ” the will of the people is the will of god” OPINION LANG PO, please DO NOT criticize me using unpleasant words. THANK YOU.

    15. I should believe Attorney Ligarda that Poe is a natural born Filipino citizen… She said, “a child (Grace) can’t just fly from nowhere (from overseas) and landed at Jaro church….”

      • Documentary evidence must be presented to justify that she is indeed a natural born Filipino. Poe should not be offering the reason that 20 million people voted her. Her citizenship was not an issue then. It is now.

    16. ms. poe should just show proof that she is a fil. citizen and that ends the issue.

    17. This case under the electoral tribunal is a fight to preserve sanctity of our constitution which has been shamelessly desecrated by this administration of Aquino. A fight between REASON and PASSION. Reason naturally defends the truth whether Poe is a natural-born and a Filipino citizen or otherwise. Passion supports personal interest which more often demand self-gratification and fuels limitless ambition. Poe’s declaration to reinforce her defense dwells on the passionate heresy of the voters’ will never mentioning the legal aspect of her defense. This clearly shows that she taunts her perceived supporters to rise against the legal current and proclaim that the provisions of the constitution against her case is irrelevant and popular will is the ultimate norm. This is the same tact this immoral administration of Aquino has applied in desecrating our constitution. Mainstream media (PDI, PS, ABS-CBN, etc.) and survey firms (SWS and Pulse Asia) are effectively used by Aquino as tools and accessory to harness and indoctrinate the gullible citizenry at the expense of truth.

      • Teddy Sevilla on

        Vox populi vox dei. God speaks through the collective voice of the people.

        Very popular and smartish phrase, especially liked by politicians. Imelda used to say it a lot. I guess this was the main logic behind the ‘Aguinaldo Doctrine.’ The fact of being elected corrects and forgives past wrongdoings. You are right to frame this issue as a tussle of Reason vs Passion.

        Poe invokes it in answer to questions of her cirizenship. Binay does too, for his Makati City transgressions. Offhand, I cannot think of a fine example of Pinoy specifically utilizing this, but you may be right.

        Let us see how this plays out.

    18. Jose A. Oliveros on

      Mr. Makabenta, you are correct in saying that “A violation of the Constitution cannot be wiped away by votes, or PCOS votes in Ms. Poe’s case.” The reason is simple: It was not and never the intention of the framers of the Philippine Constitution that the constitutional provision requiring that a candidate for President or Vice President of the Philippines must be a natural-born Filipino citizen would be dependent upon “the vagaries of election results”, to borrow the words of the late venerable Justice Jose B. L. Reyes, in that case involving the mayoralty of Concepcion, Tarlac which the late Benigno Aquino, Jr. won despite being under-age.

    19. jesus nazario on

      Can’t help but discern the parallel: Mr. David vs Ms Poe Goliath. It will be a tough case indeed ! It might even reach the SC. Am just wondering why Mr. David did not include the two-year “residency” for the senatorial contest issue in his complaint.

    20. If she runs in the senate and she knew she was not qualified, she was a chancer as “POE” her surname is like a Filipino household name and she knew she can easily wins!

    21. jesus nazario on

      Lie #1: the final official/Comelec count was 16 million, not 20 million. Yes, the count blipped at some point to 20 million but this was adjusted by Comelec to the final 16 million for unexplained reason(s). This can only be due to 2 things: nasobrahang fraud or tallying error. Both are unacceptable for there should only be ONE correct count ! For sure, Comelec pala has also a subtraction machine, not just an adding machine. Did Ms Poe herself even uttered a peep in protest to the 4 million reduction ? NO ! What does that mean really ? What if that 4 million reduction affected her # 1 standing ? What if that 4 million reduction dislodged her completely out of the top 12 ? And xSen Gordon becomes the 12th ranking senator ? Would she have complained kaya ? Now she is mouthing the unofficial (and later reduced) count of 20 million. Is she being careless ? Or just plain lying ? Or rattled ?

    22. What is very,very important here is a fast resolution of this case. Here the SET must act and move fast to resolve this case. Sitting on this case will show our people a very bad impression on how we act on important questions.

    23. The more than 20 million people who voted her were completely fooled by her. And now she going to try to fool them again.One is enough, two us too much.

      If it is said to be true that she was a US citizen When PNoy appointed her a Chairwoman of MTRCB , she should have a Working Visa or Working permit, or OCW card, If she doesn’t have , then her sin were multiple

      If Her husband and children are still US citizen at kung maging pangulo or bise presidente siya, di ba tayo ay napakagago!

      Kaya people of the Philippines. huwag tayong magpapagago ulit….!

    24. Regardless of David Rizalito’s intention in filing a “Quo Warranto” petition with the Electoral Tribunal, the Petitioni is a justiceable issue which the Electoral Tribunal must resolved based on ” rule of law” and legal perspective not on political basis. However, the Tribunal being composed of a majority politicians and only 3 Justices who can be over-ruled by the Tribunal, the adjudication looks to favor a political respondent, Grace Poe, as it involves one of their own member. Be that as it may, either party may avail of the last and final judgment of the Supreme Court whatever is the Tribunal’s ruling which is appealed to the Supreme Court by the losing party. I tend to rely and have faith with the Tribunal as the issue involves one of a landmark political issue of qualification and interpretation of the constitutional requirement of “natural born. Citizenship” and residency requirement for position of Members of congress, VP and Presidency.

    25. who violated the constitution then? is it ms. Grace Poe or the administration of pnoy? who are these natural born pilipinos? aren’t they suppose to be born in the Philippines?

    26. P.Akialamiro on

      While Mr. David is attacking the natural-born questionable status of Mrs. Llamanzares, her ‘reacquisition’ of her Filipino citizenship also poses a big question. If she did not follow the proper procedure in renouncing her U.S. citizenship, the fact that she did it, allegedly, in an affidavit notarized in the Philippines, her renunciation, therefore, did not severe her allegiance to the United States. Assuming that she followed the procedure for renouncing her U.S. Citizenship, the effective date of official severance of her allegiance should be considered to start counting her required stay in the Philippines before she could run for senator. In other words, technically, she might not be qualified to file her candidacy for senagtor. She, therefore, perjured and should be disqualified and prosecuted. Unless, she is ‘above’ the law, expecially if she accepts the invitation of the LP to be the Veep of Roxas.

    27. Alejo Rosete on

      Yen – I truly believe you in this ARGUMENT.
      The Iron Lady of Britain said – it does not.
      I agree.

    28. Grace said, “I got 20 million votes”. She’s got no brain after all. There is no immunity for Senator and votes does not make one above the law. Grace Poe under pressure is brainless dumb.

    29. Just because Grace is a foundling does not nullify the fact that she was born in the Phillipines. Granting that her parent might not be Filipinos, so it makes her citizenship uncertain. However, the law in the case of matters of legal rulings it prefers to err on the side of caution than “convict” an innocent person. This to me is more like just another hoop that people put in Grace’s way to jump over; and at the same time distract the public from the real issue of what the Phillipines really need to consider.

      • Amnata Pundit on

        This is a common argument used by Grace Poe defenders. It is her natural-born status that is being questioned, not her Filipino citizenship, although it looks like that too is questionable.

    30. In reacting to the petition, Senator Poe has predictably defended herself by invoking the number of votes that elected her to the Senate.

      The number of votes that Sen. Poe garnered in the last election has nothing to do with the substantial issues raised against her. It does not matter how many votes she got. What matters is whether or not she was qualified at all to be voted upon.

      The complaint against her is anchored on constitutional issues. Her reply should be based on the constitution too, not on the number of votes she got.