Embattled Sen. Grace Poe on Wednesday thanked President Benigno Aquino 3rd for saying that she should be given a chance to run in next year’s elections amid questions over her citizenship.
“I am very touched that the President is sympathizing with my position. There’s a reason why President Aquino continues to enjoy a strong mandate and the approval of our fellow countrymen,” Poe said in a statement sent to reporters.
The pre-election frontrunner for President and Vice President, she was the President’s original choice to team up with the ruling Liberal Party’s presumptive standard-bearer, Manuel Roxas 2nd
The first-time senator–whom Aquino initially appointed as chairman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board–refused the President’s offer and last week declared her intention to stand for the presidency.
A radio commentator, however, has sought her disqualification from the Senate, arguing that Poe failed to meet the constitutional requirement pertaining to citizenship.
Separate cases on similar ground were filed with the Senate Electoral Tribunal and the Commission on Elections.
The President, in a television interview, said he is hoping that Poe gets the opportunity to be judged by the people in 2016
“With his statement, he’s showing that beyond the colors of politics, he believes in protecting the integrity of free and fair democratic elections,” Poe said.
‘Step down, save face’
But former senator Francisco Tatad also on Wednesday called on Poe to step down from her post as senator for her to “save face” over issues hounding her citizenship.
“Senator Grace Poe should resign for her to save face over her citizenship issue, same with what former senator [Juan Miguel] Zubiri has done beforehand,” Tatad told reporters in a forum in San Juan City (Metro Manila).
He was referring to Zubiri who voluntarily stepped down from office in 2011 amid allegations that he benefited from an allegedly massive poll fraud in the 2007 elections.
The Senate Electoral Tribunal would later nullify Zubiri’s proclamation. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd was then named as the duly elected senator and took the seat vacated by Zubiri.
“I believe that Senator Poe would be unseated because of her pending case before the [Senate Electoral Tribunal]. It would be bad for her if she would be removed by the [tribunal], now that she has declared her intention to seek the presidency,” Tatad, a columnist of The Manila Times, said.
Tatad is one of the personalities who strongly oppose Poe’s claim that she is a natural-born Filipino.
“The [electoral tribunal]is not about numbers, the law is very clear that Poe isn’t a natural-born Filipino,” he said.
“Grace Poe’s only mistake is that she wants us to believe that she’s a natural- born Filipino when in fact, she’s not. Poe is only a naturalized Filipino citizen, she’s already stateless at birth,” the former senator added.
The Senate Electoral Tribunal, according to retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno, should have ordered Poe to undergo DNA testing to ensure that the proceedings and their results would be credible.
“No one could stop the [electoral tribunal]in case it orders the DNA testing. Senator Poe would anyway agree to submit to such test. We can be assured that the proceedings are
independent if the [tribunal]itself had ordered the testing,” he said in Filipino.
It was revealed during oral arguments on Poe’s disqualification case last week that the senator had voluntarily submitted herself to DNA testing.
The objective, her camp says, is to once and for all determine her Filipino lineage.
Poe’s DNA samples would be matched with samples taken from a “possible biological sibling.”
WITH NEIL A. ALCOBER AND JOMAR CANLAS