SOLICITOR General Florin Hilbay insisted on Tuesday that foundlings like Sen. Grace Poe are considered natural-born Filipino citizens.
At the continuation of the oral arguments at the Supreme Court, Hilbay noted that the Constitution, whether old or new, classifies foundlings as natural-born.
“Foundlings are natural-born citizens under all our Constitutions. The 1934 (Constitutional) Convention specifically tackled the status of foundlings, or children with unknown parents,” he said.
He pointed out that Concon delegate Nicolas Rafols wanted to explicitly put into writing that foundlings are natural-born.
“The proposal of Delegate (Nicolas) Rafols was to specifically recognize foundlings as Filipinos. The counter proposal was to simply assume that they are Filipino citizens,” Hilbay said, referring to the records of deliberations of the 1935 Constitution which covers Poe’s birth year.
“Delegate (Ruperto) Montinola saw no need to amend (the draft Constitution) because in his view, under domestic laws, a foundling is the son of a Filipino.
“Delegate (Manuel) Roxas also saw no need for the proposal because cases involving foundlings are few and far between and in his view, under international law, foundlings are citizens of the nation in which they are found,” the Solicitor General said.
“What was declined was a textual and explicit recognition of foundlings as Filipinos,” he added.
The present Constitution is silent on the citizenship of foundlings.
But Hilbay said this was because “Montinola and Roxas were able to convince their colleagues that there is no more need to expressly declare foundlings as Filipinos because they are explicitly recognized already.”
“Foundlings are recognized as a class of Filipinos under the 1935 Constitution. This inclusive policy carried over to 1973 and 1987 Constitution,” he stressed.
“Foundlings are natural-born citizens as a matter of right because it is safe to assume that their parents are Filipinos in the same way that it is safe to assume that those with birth certificates are natural-born citizens even if those papers are only prima facie proof of Filipino filiation,” Hilbay said.
He presented figures from the National Statistics Authority that the probability of a child born in the Philippines is a Filipino is more than 99.99%.
From 2010 to 2014, on a yearly average, records showed there were 1,766,046 children born to Filipino parents, as opposed to 1,301 children born in the Philippines to foreign parents.
“Thus, for that sample period, the ratio of non-Filipino children to natural born Filipino children is 1:1357. This means that the statistical probability that any child born in the Philippines would be a natural born Filipino is 99.93 percent,” Hilbay pointed out.
The Commission on Elections disqualified Poe on the grounds that she is not a natural-born Filipino, a requirement for presidential candidates.