IN officially announcing her candidacy for president, Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares proudly boasted, “No one will be left behind.” The way things are turning out, it looks more likely that she will soon have no one left to lie to.
At the rate that Filipinos are becoming skeptics of Ms. Poe’s citizenship and candidacy across all classes and all over the archipelago, the senator will wake soon to the reality that she has no one left to lie to about her being a natural-born Filipino and her grand plans for the nation.
Mar Roxas joined the Grace Poe skeptics the other day when he declared that no one wants a foreigner as our president. This drew the retort from Ms Poe that Roxas once assiduously courted her to become his running mate. To which, the Roxas camp shot back that he did not know then that Ms Poe was an alien.
A problem of credibility
On mainstream and social media, it is hard to find now a pundit, reader or blogger who believes Ms. Poe is qualified to run for president. Nearly everyone has been swayed by the barrage of media commentaries (which incidentally includes my own take on the subject) that overwhelmingly assert that Ms. Poe does not meet the test of
citizenship as prescribed by the Constitution. Most believe that Grace has lied about her citizenship and residency status. Many say that unless all 100 million of us Filipinos agree to DNA testing, her biological origins will never be known.
Although Ms. Poe got a morale booster when the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) dismissed the disqualification case filed against her and dared to rule, with neither competence nor authority, that she is a natural born citizen — this seeming victory is turning out to be pyrrhic for her and the senators who cooked the ruling.
The overwhelming public feeling is that the senators disgraced themselves and dishonored the Senate in submitting a patently political verdict on the case. There will be political fallout from this for the senators. Sen. Tito Sotto, who is running for reelection, and is already burdened with the baggage of accepting a DAP bribe to convict former chief justice Renato Corona, will be hit hard; Eat Bulaga will have to work double-time to defend him.
It will be hard to take seriously henceforth Senators Loren Legarda, Cynthia Villar, and Pia Cayetano. Afforded the chance to show the nation how they as women exercise judgment on an issue of public interest, they miserably flunked the test.
In contrast, the dissenting opinions of the three SC justices in the SET stand out as the authoritative voice on Ms. Poe’s citizenship status, and by implication, her eligibility to run for president. Justices Brion, Carpio and de Castro are the ones who are being read and believed. Many are now convinced that when the time comes for the Supreme Court to rule on Ms. Poe’s citizenship, there is absolutely no chance that the high court will sustain her position.
Comelec will rule soon
Ms. Poe’s immediate problem is the Commission on Elections, which is now deliberating in earnest and should rule soon on the four petitions that seek her outright disqualification as a candidate for president in the 2016 election.
My colleague Kit Tatad’s account of the Comelec hearings last Wednesday brought bad news for Ms. Poe.
One razor-sharp Comelec commissioner caused Grace Poe’s lawyer, George Garcia, to melt under her questioning. His argument that as a foundling Ms. Poe is a natural-born Filipino by right has become surreal.
The Constitution, the jurisprudence, and the facts simply do not support Senator Poe’s position that she is a natural-born Filipino.
This big-time swindle has run its course. I won’t be surprised if it folds its tent soon, as financial backers turn off the faucet.
Borrowing from George Bush
Ms. Poe’s campaign mantra, “No one left behind,” deserves a footnote.
Under the stage management of the Eat Bulaga production team and Tito Sotto, candidate Poe at launch earnestly and piously pledged that no Filipino citizen, old or young, natural-born or naturalized, will be left behind in her administration.
It sounds like a nice sentiment.
What’s not known and not acknowledged is that the idea was shoplifted from the shopping bag of President George W. Bush. It was GW who orchestrated the passage of the No Child left Behind Act in the US, an education reform measure designed to upgrade educational standards.
After Grace used it, the slogan caught the fancy of President Aquino and his APEC brain trust, who decided to adopt it as his key message for the APEC summit. “No one left behind” served as the title of his bizarre address to the APEC CEO summit.
Strangely, neither Grace Poe nor BS Aquino seems aware that they both filched “no one left behind” from George W. Bush.
Disclosure: I want to disclose here that I borrowed the phrase “no one left to lie to” from the writer and polemicist Christopher Hitchens who used it first in a political essay on Bill Clinton.
Strange reversal of fate
So far, Ms. Poe has successfully lied and confused everyone about the facts of her birth and citizenship. But now, it appears that few people buy her story. She is now regarded with cynicism and suspicion by a large segment of the public.
With the Comelec’s decision coming up soon to meet the deadline for ballot printing, and with the Supreme Court likely to follow with its own verdict on Ms. Poe’s eligibility before the presidential campaign kicks off in February, Ms. Poe will face her day of reckoning. The Senator will have no one to lie to any more.
She will have no one to delude because Comelec will nullify her candidacy, and because the Supreme Court will rule that she is not a natural-born citrizen, and thus not qualified to run for president.
In a strange reversal of fate, it is Grace Poe who will be left behind.
The rest of us will move on to elect the next president of our republic.