In defense of the Constitution and the Comelec

31

The Commission on Elections en banc has come under attack from the camp of Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares for disqualifying her as presidential candidate and canceling her Certificate of Candidacy on Dec. 23, 2015—two days before Christmas. The en banc ruling affirmed the Dec. 11, 2015 resolution of the First Division, which found Mrs. Llamanzares ineligible to seek the presidency for not being a natural-born Filipino, and for lacking the 10-year residency requirement under the Constitution.

A week or so before the en banc resolution, the Times headlined a story predicting a five-to-one vote disqualifying Mrs. Llamanzares and cancelling her CoC. The story was attributed to former Comelec chairman Sixto Brilllantes, Jr., a well-known Poe Llamanzares supporter. The 30-page ruling confirmed the Brillantes story, except that the vote is six-to-one, with only Commissioner Christian Robert S. Lim dissenting.

Unanimous on citizenship
But on the issue of whether or not Mrs. Llamanzares is a natural-born citizen, all seven commissioners agree that she is not. Lim, in his 81-page dissent on the First Division ruling which he has adopted at the En Banc, says “no amount of legal juggling” can make Mrs. Llamanzares a natural-born citizen because she has no known biological parents at least one of whom is a Filipino citizen, and six other reasons. He goes so far as to suggest that she may be criminally liable for misrepresenting her citizenship status.

Chairman Andres Bautista, in his three-page concurring and dissenting opinion, argues that “a former Filipino who reacquired Philippine citizenship should be deemed to be a naturalized Filipino citizen.” However, he appears to be caught in some kind of political dance: he fails to state categorically that Mrs. Llamanzares is not a “former natural-born citizen” who has validly reacquired her former citizenship; and he has been seen on television criticizing the En Banc decision, which it is his constitutional and ethical duty as chairman to defend, even if he were opposed to it.


The timing or the ruling itself?

If we understand the objection, what is being objected to is not so much the ruling per se as the “timing” of the same, which the Llamanzares camp finds “suspicious” for being so close to the holidays when the Supreme Court is on recess.

I am no apologist for the Comelec. I have at least a couple of petitions against the Comelec before the Supreme Court, but this is one instance when all the parties concerned should be thankful to the Comelec for acting on this case with reasonable dispatch. Regardless of the unseemly conduct of the Chairman, which has not escaped the attention of the public, this is one time when the Comelec as a body is not sinning but rather sinned against.

There are four petitions against Mrs. Llamanzares—-one initiated by Atty. Estrella Elamparo and assigned to the Second Division, and three filed by this writer, Prof. Antonio Contreras and Dean Amado Valdez and assigned to the First. The petitions argue that Mrs. Llamanzares is not a natural-born Filipino, that she has not met the 10-year residency requirement prior to election day, and that she has misrepresented herself in both issues. She is, therefore, not eligible to run for President. This was the common finding of the two Divisions, and this was affirmed by the En Banc.

The only questions
The questions addressed by the En Banc are the same questions of relevance to the public. Is she a natural-born Filipino or not? Has she been residing in the country for at least ten years prior to the May 9, 2016 elections? Did she or did she not make any material misrepresentation on any of these two issues?

This is what the En Banc says in part:

“The 1935 Constitution, including the 1987 Constitution, adheres to the principle of jus sanguinis or blood relationship as basis of natural-born Filipino citizenship.

Any blood relatives?
“The principle of jus sanguinis posits that one is a natural-born Filipino because she is born of a Filipino parent. Under the 1935 Constitution, a natural-born Filipino citizen is one whose father is a citizen of the Philippines. Under the 1987 Constitution, a natural-born Filipino citizen is one whose father or mother is a Filipino citizen. Respondent does not fall under any of the definitions provided for by the Constitution as to who are natural-born citizens. The fact that the Respondent was a foundling with no known parentage or blood relative effectively excluded her from the coverage of the definition of a natural-born citizen. The enumeration under the 1935 Constitution is exclusive; a strict interpretation of who are natural-born citizens must be applied, especially when the same is read in conjunction with the elective position of President, the highest and most powerful position in the land. Unless Respondent can show that she falls under the definition of natural-born citizen as envisaged in the 1935 Constitution, this Commission has no choice but to dismiss her claim of natural-born citizenship…

Not qualified
“As found by the First Division, which we affirm, Respondent is not a natural-born citizen of the Philippines. She has likewise failed to comply with the ten (10)-year residency requirement…

“In her CoC for President, Respondent declared that she is eligible to the position she seeks to be elected to. In Item No. 7 of her CoC, Respondent claimed that her period of residency in the Philippines as of the day before the 2016 Elections on 9 May 2016 is ten (10) years and eleven (11) months; in item no. 8 Respondent declared and affirmed that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen. This is a false declaration because Respondent does not possess the qualifications pertaining to natural-born citizenship and the ten (10)-year residency requirement…

“Upon a review of the facts and evidence on record, the applicable laws and relevant jurisprudence, We affirm the findings of the First Division that Respondent deliberately misrepresented her citizenship so as to hide her ineligibility and mislead the electorate…

She knows what she is, and what she’s not
“Respondent knows that she was a foundling, that she has no known blood relatives, and that she was an adopted child of Susan Roces (Jesusa Sonora Poe) and Fernando Poe Jr. (Ronald Allan Kelley Poe). As a foundling, it is clear under the 1935 Constitution that Respondent could not have fallen under the definition of who are natural-born citizens. As previously shown, the language of the 1935 Constitution is clear: unless Respondent can show that she is born of a Filipino parent or father, she cannot claim natural-born Filipino citizenship.

“…Despite knowing her ineligibility, Respondent chose to ignore the facts, the law, and the Constitution, as well as jurisprudence, and misrepresent herself as natural-born Filipino citizen and mislead the electorate, clearly in order to serve her purpose and suit her intent of running for the Presidency.”

Ignorance not excused
The ruling quoted part of the resolution of the First Division as follows:

“Ignorance of the law excuses no one. Respondent is presumed and expected to know the law. She is bound by its effects and consequences in case of violation thereof. Indeed as a public servant, member of the Philippine Congress—the country’s lawmaking body and the third coequal branch of government—-Respondent is all the more charged and expected to know the law. As a lawmaker, it is the Respondent’s duty to know, abide by, and apprise herself of the laws of the Republic.”

Honest mistake?
Referring to the Respondent’s claim of “honest mistake” in computing her period of residence in the country, when she ran for Senator in 2013, which adversely affects her statement in her CoC for President, the En Banc said:

“Respondent’s “honest mistake” excuse crumbles in the face of the fact that six years and six months computed from 2 Oct 2012, the date Respondent filed her CoC for Senator, is more or less around April 2006. This still does not match respondent’s claim that she has been a resident of the Philippines since 24 May 2005…Thus the Commission En Blanc finds that Respondent committed material misrepresentation in her CoC when she declared herein that she has been a resident of the Philippines for a period of ten (10) years and eleven (11) months as of the day of the elections on 9 May 2016.”

Malicious move?
Was there a deliberate intent on the part of the En Ban to prejudice the rights of the Respondent In promulgating its ruling, two days before Christmas? Wouldn’t the Llamanzares camp be cheering wildly if the En Banc had, instead, reversed the ruling of the First Division on Christmas eve? Mrs. Llamanzares would have considered it the greatest Christmas gift she ever received. So, contrary to her pleading, it is not the timing of the ruling, but the ruling itself that she is unhappy about. She apparently had hoped the five commissioners on the First and Second Divisions, who had voted to disqualify her and cancel her CoC in two separate resolutions, would reverse themselves at the En Banc. But what might have been the basis of that?

What really happened
In fairness to all concerned, what happened here was that the En Banc started meeting continuously as soon as the two rulings were elevated to it. It was not easy to arrive at the final consensus. The Commissioners had to revisit their positions to make sure they had not erred. Thus, in the case of Commissioner Luie Tito F. Guia, he arrived at the conclusion that, contrary to his earlier position, in support of Commissioner Rowena Guanzon’s ponencia in the First Division, Mrs. Llamanzares may be “considered to have effectively transferred her domicile from the US to the Philippines as of May 2005”, and is therefore compliant with the 10-year residency requirement under the Constitution. This removes one vote from those who maintain that she does not meet that requirement.

Once they arrived at a consensus and the votes of its members were recorded, the En Banc had to make the result public. They had to promulgate it. They have no right to withhold it from the public. The En Banc therefore cannot be accused of malice for coming out with the ruling when it did. I received the news about in on the evening of the 22nd (Tuesday) when my lawyer Atty. Manuelito Luna alerted me to it, and Rappler called me about it. It is disingenuous to say the Llamanzares camp was caught flat-footed. This was their biggest battle, their lawyers (unless they are not paid for their services) should have been prepared to take the next step as soon as the expected ruling was out.

The people’s right?
Now, you have one silly so-called political analyst conjuring a possible “upheaval” because of the En Banc ruling, and Mrs. Llamanzares herself talking of “the people’s right to choose their own leaders” being violated. Were Mrs. Llamanzares constitujtionally eligible for the office, and were she in fact a legitimate candidate, and some brute force was trying to prevent the people from writing her name on the ballot, then that statement would make some sense. But Mrs. Llamanzares merely wants to impose herself on the electoral process even though she is not constitutionally eligible for the office. We cannot allow this madness.

We must thank and commend the Comelec, for all its faults, in trying to save the nation from this pompous and puffed-up nuisance candidate.

fstatad@gmail.com

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31 Comments

  1. Once again people: Mrs Poe doesnt have the burden of proof that she is not a natural-born filipina!
    All those persons who filed a claim against het stating that she is not a natural-born filipina have to submit unrefutable proof that she isnt a natural-born filipina.
    They have to motivate their claim in such a way that under the working of the Constitution of 1935, mrs Poe as a foundling is not a child born out of natural filipinos!!
    nOT ONLY BARKING THAT SHE DOESNT KNOW HER PARENTS, BUT THE CLAIMANTS HAVE TO SUBMIT EVIDENCE THAT THE PARENTS OF MRS pOE WERE NOT FILIPINO!!

    No way they can proof their allegation!!

    Regarding the 10 years mrs Poe has to submit evidence that she has lived in the phils for the last 10 years!
    And that period of 10 years closes till the day the final candacy list is officially publicized!!
    So she has to proof that by the date the official candacy list has been published she complies with that requirement!!

  2. Ang totoo nyan, kaya ipinagpipilitan ni Ms. Poe ang kanyang sarili, dahil nasa likod nito ang mga Yellow elitist business man na sumusuporta kay Ms. Poe. Ganun din, dilawan din ang dumidikta sa kanya..Kaya kahit alam nilang labag sa ating constitution ang pagsali ni Poe sa ating election ay pinipilit ng mga dilawang kulto si Poe.. Violator of the Philippine constitution. Mga abogadong de kampanilya o novatos..

  3. So really what this is all about is you don’t want anyone who doesn’t strictly comply with whether they’re a pure Filipina to steal all your money! Of course it’s ok for pure Pinoys to steal all the money.

  4. We are finally witnessing how blatant Poe has become, defying Comelec ruling, ignoring the Constitution, coaxing the Supreme Court and inciting a mob rule ! She should be penalize heavily for misrepresentation and wasting public funds for posing as a authentic government official !!! We, the people are watching like a hawk !

  5. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    28 Dec. 2015

    Those who have been following the disqualification case against GRACE POE LLAMANZARES will find highly illuminating this column, “In defense of the Constitution,” by Francisco S. Tatad in The Manila Times of 28 December 2015.

    The ruling of the Comelec, en banc, which affirmed the ruling of its 1st and 2nd divisions, effectively disqualifying Grace Poe Llamanzares for not being a natural-born Filipino citizen, and for not satisfying the 10-year residency requirements, is fully in accord with the Constitution.

    I am certain that the Supreme Court, to which Grace Poe Llamanzares has now gone to seek relief, will affirm the ruling of the COMELEC en banc. It has no other choice if it is to be the defender of the Constitution.

    There are those who suggest that Grace Poe Llamanzares be allowed to be a candidate for President anyway and let the Filipino decide whether or not she deserves to be their President–on the principle of “Vox populi, vox dei.”

    The Constitution is a document which has been ratified by the Filipino people in a Referendum; it is thus “Vox populi, vox dei.”

    To allow Grace Poe Llamanzares to be a candidate for President would be patently wrong because it would be a violation of the Constitution and thusa violation of “Vox populi, vox dei.”

    MARIANO PATALINJUG
    patalinjugmar@gmail.com

  6. I think this article was written and explained very well to my level, without too much legal jargon. I like the area where the COMELEC En Banc finds Grace Poe Llamanzares committed material misrepresentation in her COC. What the Supreme Court en banc should do is to find her guilty for violating the election law and put her in jail. That would be the proper place for her until she finish her term as a senator, then send her back to the U.S. with her U.S. Citizen husband and children. lol

  7. Question: Can she still go back to the Senate and claim her seat once she is finally disqualified by the SC?

  8. Leodegardo Pruna on

    Just that Bautista sold his coconut shell for whatever reason- money especially. God bless the Philippines and for whatever graver mistake Baustista does, God save the Philippines.

  9. kaya nga by operation of law sabi ni justice Carpio kahit hindi ka nag apply for naturalisation , if you want it to be classified a Filipino citizen in the 1935 constitution, Grace Poe was a naturalised Filipino citizen by Art.2 section 5. Gets mo?? Iyan ang Tama. RA 9225 reacquisition of dual citizenship is contrary to our constitution. RA 9225 needs to perform an act to reacquire natural born status and our constitution defines Natural Born Citizen are Citizen FROM birth without the need to perform an ACT to PERFECT IT!!! RA 9225 is perfecting an ACT. TATAD paki file sa SC to declare RA 9225 AS UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

  10. If I were Ms. Poe, I would file a petition requiring the Comelec to review the ruling in the Philippine’s national language. Why is it important to do this? It is akin to asking another medical specialist for a second opinion diagnosis never assuming that every Comelec member had a clear understanding of the decision they made in the English language.

    • Why waste our precious time with Poe’s DQ, nakakasawa na ! She has lost her marbles, her grace and dignity over her insanity running for prez ! She and her lawyer are playing footsies with our intelligence , shamelessly mocking the rules of Comelec and the law of the land! She defrauded the people when she run for senator and now she wants to twist the justice system . Let’s watch how she acts her drama and charms the Supreme Court . Abangan ang susunod na kabanata ng FPJ productions! Who are the fools?

  11. Dominador D. Canastra on

    I agree completely. God bless the Comele’s recent decisions. BUt watch what Bautista does!
    And let’s all be vigilant about violations of our Constitution.

  12. adonis b. rocha on

    Well said Kit ! ” Alis dyan Grace Llamanzares”. Good riddance, ” nailagay ka sa dapat mong kalagyan…ambisyosa Grace” ! Bye bye Grace…broken dreams Chiz …..

  13. Rodolfo liporada on

    How can one who does not know the Constitution be president, much less defend it? Mrs. Llamanzares must be menupausing for acting tantrumic.

  14. Bautista, has his ‘perverted’ logic of qualifying one who has re-acquired Filipino citizenship, should be deemed a natural-born Filipino Citizen.

    This is Comelec’s head Bautista’s logic:

    Poe was adopted by Fiulipino citizen parents and, therefore, is a Filipino citizen;
    Poe became a U.S. citizen by naturalization, but re-acquired her Filipino citizenship by virtue of the Philippine ‘Dual Citizenship’ Act;
    Ergo: Poe is a “natural-born” Filipino citizen!

    Wow, what a logic?

    It’s just like having an orange tree branch grafted to an apple tree branch’ and when it bore fruit which looks like an orange and tastes like an orange, but already considered as a apple.

    On timing of filing and publishing the results, when was it supposed to be the proper timing? It the cases for disqualification were filed earlier, they could be “premature” and, therefore,, be dismissed. Since the cases should be resolved ASAP, then the publication of the results are just proper. Should they be postponed until the printing of ballots are ‘overdue’?

    To qualify Ms. Poe despite all the decisions made by the Comelec would erode faith in the fundamental law of the land, and further erode whatever faith is left the people have in the Comelec. We are talking here of possible election to the No. 1 position of the land. Worse, she simply, doesn’t have the proper background and experience to govern, despite all her claims of honesty and other good intentions.

    I never claim to be holier than anyone. I am a ‘struggling’ Christian and I don’t have any animosity toward her. I simply believe that things should be put in the right perspective, hoping that political will can change the ‘atmosphere’ of politics in the country …somehow.

  15. Paano kaya napatunayan ng mga geniuses,na foreign o American ang magulang ni Poe?? At hindi nila matangap na natural born ito!
    Mas posible bang foreigners ang magulang niya kaysa pilipino?
    Kung hindi kayang patunayan ni Poe na pilipino ang magulang niya,hindi ba dapat patunayan din nila na totoong dayuhan ang magulang nito!

    • The burden of proving na natural born si Grace ay nasa abogado ni grace. Hindi magpapagod ang mga commissioner mag hanap ng ebidensiya para kay Grace.

  16. “Mrs. Llamanzares merely wants to impose herself on the electoral process even though she is not constitutionally eligible for the office. We cannot allow this madness.”

    That’s right, Mr. Tatad. Grace Poe is already imposing herself on us, the electorate, to our disgust. Especially, when she declared that she is continuing with her candidacy even in defiance of the Phil. Constitution. This is the moment when we realized that she is not only not a natural-born Filipino, she is also a non-Filipino in her heart and thought. Because she does not respect and love the Constitution of the Filipinos. It is obvious her loyalty is not to the country but to herself. And this makes us puke. Her declaration shows the extent of her being un-Filipino.

    For how can we support the candidacy of one who does not even have that basic respect for our laws? Her arguments are ad hominem. She appeals to and plays on the emotions of the people regarding her being a foundling running for office. She wants to show that she is “inaapi” by those institutions which impose the will of the Constitution. But the words of the Constitution are not ambiguous. The words are clear and distinct. So no amount of statutory construction can re-interpret it. As a foundling, she cannot claim citizenship by jus sanguinis which is the basis of Phil. citizenship. She must be quite dense and her lawyers too.

    In conscience, we cannot and should not vote for someone who lies in pursuit of her personal ambition.

    • she is also a non-Filipino in her heart and thought. Because she does not respect and love the Constitution of the Filipinos.
      —————————————–

      That pretty much sum’s up the entire senate and house of rep’s.

      The 5 of the 6 senators on the set committee disregarded the constitution to allow her to keep her senate seat.

      21 out of 23 senators gave their pork barrel millions to Napoles in exchange for kickbacks and campaign funds. 3 opposition senators jailed.

      Hundreds of house of rep (representing themselves) gave their pork barrel millions to Napoles. None jailed

      3 opposition members of Congress out of hundreds who looted the pork barrel fund were jailed.

      De Lima called that one of her accomplishments. She is now running for senate as a Liberal party candidate, guess that’s why she didn’t arrest any of them and let them keep the billions in kickbacks.

      The entire government is corrupt and needs to be flushed.

  17. Why can’t Senator Poe be honest just for once. She knew fully well that she is not qualified to be a Senator much less a President of the Philippines.

  18. Comelec ruling make 5 members of SET proved their ignorance of the Constitution. No opinion why they voted in favor of Grace Poe. What can you expect from this low inform senators can do for us in the Senate. Their decision set a bad precedent in the future lawmaker and should resign for delicadeza. Pang kalye serye lang talaga sila.

  19. I hope the SC can decide this matter as soon as possible. This Grace Poe DQ issue has lingered so long that it has become a nuisance.

    • Let’s all watch the Supreme court vote, Aquino has 5 appointee’s already on the Supreme court and will have 1 more when he gets around to appoints another due to one judge retiring.

      Wont be surprised at all when the 6 Justices Aquino appointed vote for Poe and disregard the constitution. The 3 Supreme court judges that were on the SET committee will inhibit and not vote so that’s 3 that would of voted no that wont be allowed to cast a vote.

      When that happens will the people finally get a clue, there is no agency that is not corrupt in the Philippines.

  20. I understand that you are one of the petitioners to DQ sen poe. I believe Sen Poe is qualified as per International laws (that is learly states as part of the laws of the land) and domestic laws (stating we are avoiding statelessness). She cant be a naturalized citizen because she never applied for naturalization.Also, FPJ and Susan Roces could not have adopted her because our local laws does not allow adopting foreigners. Sen Poe meets all requirements to run for the position.

    • kaya nga by operation of law sabi ni justice Carpio kahit hindi ka nag apply for naturalisation , if you want it to be classified a Filipino citizen in the 1935 constitution, Grace Poe was a naturalised Filipino citizen by Art.2 section 5. Gets mo?? Iyan ang Tama. RA 9225 reacquisition of dual citizenship is contrary to our constitution. RA 9225 needs to perform an act to reacquire natural born status and our constitution defines Natural Born Citizen are Citizen FROM birth without the need to perform an ACT to PERFECT IT!!! RA 9225 is perfecting an ACT. TATAD paki file sa SC to declare RA 9225 AS UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

    • The Philippine Constitution supersedes any other laws foreign or local. Senator Poe meets all requirement except being natural born and a ten year residency requirement. When you sign your COC you validate the answers to be true. Her lawyers should have guided her when she signed and submitted her COC for senator.

  21. Ito naman si Tito, nagaral ba ng batas yan? Pwede ba yun “considered” sa pagbibilang which is an exact science? Sa pagkakaalam ko, magkaiba ang intent sa realidad. Yun nakatira ay magkaiba sa balak tumira. Baka binenta bahay sa aremika kasi titira sa Singapore.