IN response to Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio saying at the oral arguments before Senate Electoral Tribunal on Monday that Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares is not a natural-born Filipino, some friends of the beleaguered senator are asking that the tribunal’s chair inhibit himself from the proceedings, for having been a law partner of lawyer Avelino (Nonong) Cruz, who is said to be working for LP presidential aspirant Manuel Roxas 2nd, who stands to benefit from unseating Mrs. Llamanzares as a senator and her being barred from the presidential race.
I am still trying to figure out the logic in this proposition.
Assuming Carpio and Cruz used to be law partners, and Cruz is now with Roxas, there is nothing to connect Cruz or Roxas to the disqualification suit against Mrs. Llamanzares. Former senatorial candidate Rizalito David is the lone petitioner in the quo warranto suit before the SET; no other politician or non-politician is involved. I believe I could speak on this with some authority because until David came into the picture, and others joined in, I was about the only one discussing this issue with some persistence in the press.
I was the first to point out that Mrs. Llamanzares is not a natural-born Filipino while UNA’s Rep. Toby Tiangco was apologizing to the Poe family for having earlier questioned her required residency in the Philippines. Since then I have written tons of expository articles on the subject, and discussed it in successive one-hour interviews on GNN cable TV. These have disturbed readers in various parts of the world; one reader from Canada complains that the Times has failed to print what he wrote. Was David, who used to be my political officer in the Senate, and is a regular reader of the Times, probably touched by my persistence?
Mrs. Llamanzares promoters apparently believe she had to answer to no one but her political peers. They could not believe that in the name of the Constitution and the rule of law a mere citizen could challenge her right to sit in the Senate, even after she had topped the rigged 2013 senatorial elections, and her adoptive uncle and other propaganda fraudsters had put her on top of their unverified and unverifiable propaganda surveys. They had to assume that either Vice President Jejomar Binay or Mar Roxas, was behind David, and it had to be Roxas rather than Binay because Mar’s “bantay balota” lawyer Nonong Cruz was supposed to have collected a big file on Mrs. Llamanzares.
What they conveniently forget is that no presidential aspirant, certainly not Roxas nor Binay nor even the once and past future candidate Rudy Duterte, has ever found the opportunity to say what David has told the SET, that Mrs. Llamanzares is not a natural-born citizen, and therefore not constitutionally eligible to sit in the Senate or to run for president or vice president. In fact, until she announced her interest in the presidency on Sept. 16, both PNoy and Roxas had been trying to convince her to run as the LP vice presidential candidate. This meant they were prepared to savage the Constitution, or to pretend that they had never read Section 3 of Article VII, which says, there shall be a Vice President who shall have the same qualifications and term of office and be elected with and in the same manner as the President.
Rather than question the motives or possible bias of Carpio or the two other justices (Arturo Brion and Teresita de Castro), it might be more prudent to examine those of the six senator-judges instead. The reason is obvious. At least two of them had strong links to FPJ. Sen. Loren Legarda ran as vice president to Fernando Poe Jr., Mrs. Llamanzares’ adoptive father, in 2004; will she be able to find against the respondent, if the evidence so requires? Similarly, Sen. Tito Sotto helped run FPJ’s campaign in the same election; will he have the heart to decide against Mary Grace, if needed? More importantly, some of them sat as senator-judges in the Corona impeachment trial and received P50 million or more from the constitutionally outlawed Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) to convict and remove the politically ill-starred Chief Justice. Will they finally be able to render “impartial justice,” gratis et amore?
Mrs. Llamanzares’ problems are not solely constitutional. They are complicated by defense-related issues. There seems to be some confusion about her defense strategy. At the preliminary conference on Sept. 11, Atty. George Erwin Garcia, who was earlier reported to have been asked to help the defense, found himself excluded from the proceedings while his colleague Alexander Poblador tried to navigate the legal currents by his lonesome. During the Sept. 21 orals at the Supreme Court, Poblador still took charge; Garcia tried to pass some notes to help him handle difficult questions from the justices, but was routinely ignored. The orals proved to be embarrassing for the defense, and Garcia tried to do damage control by trying to tell the press what Poblador had earlier failed to tell the SET.
The one big unanswered question is, what kind of political and legal advice did Mrs. Llamanzares get, or was getting, from Sen. Chiz Escudero, her announced running mate? Did he not assure her that because she is the adopted daughter of ‘Panday,” the other popular name of Fernando Poe Jr., and she has been rating high in the propaganda surveys manufactured by the usual fraudsters, not even her declared opponents would try to make life hard for her, that foreign and local financial donors would come rushing into her chamber with suitcases bulging with P1,000 bills, and everything would be a walk in the park for her? What happened to this syrupy promise?
Did Escudero’s lawyers not prepare all the documentary evidence to show that David’s petition was a pure nuisance complaint? Why did the basic documents turn out to be spurious and incompetent, and instead of supporting the respondent, support the petitioner instead? The documents were so incriminatory in character that the petitioner simply adopted them, to the respondent’s patent grief.
Among these documents were:
1) A copy of a certificate of live birth of a “foundling,” named May Grace Natividad Contreras Militar, born on Sept. 3, 1968 and found in the parish church of Jaro, on Sept. 3, 1968, at about 9:30 am, by Mr. Edgardo Militar, who turned over the child into the custody of Mr. and Mrs. Emiliano Militar at Sta. Isabel Street, Jaro. The certificate is originally typewritten, but it contains certain erasures and intercalations. For instance, the name “Natividad” is inserted by hand between “Grace” and “Contreras”, and the name “Contreras Militar” is bracketed, and above it is written “Sonora Poe.” The certificate is dated Nov. 27, 1968, but on the right hand side is a handwritten note saying: “Note: Adopted child by the spouses Ronald Allan Poe and Jesusa Sonora Poe as per Court Order, Municipal Court, San Juan Rizal, by the (ineligible) Judge Alfredo Gorgonio, dated May 13, 1974, under Sp. Proc. No. 138.” This is proof positive that the document was not made on Nov. 27, 1968, as claimed, and is therefore at best a spurious document. It cannot stand as evidence in favor of the defense.
2) A copy of a decision under the signature of Judge Alfredo Gorgonio of the municipal court of San Juan, Rizal, dated May 13, 1974, purporting to show that after due hearing, the Court decided to grant the petition for adoption of the minor Mary Grace Natividad Contreras Militar by the spouses Ronald Allan Poe and Jesusa Sonora Poe. The veracity of the order deserves full investigation because the municipal court had no jurisdiction over adoption cases. This is known to most lawyers.
3) A copy of a certificate of live birth in favor of Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe, executed by Jesusa Sonora Poe on May 4, 2006, claiming that Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe was born on Sept. 3, 1968 in Jaro, Iloilo City, to Jesusa Sonora Poe and to Ronald Allan Poe. This is a revision of the circumstance of Mary Grace’s birth, from having no known parents to being the daughter of the Poe couple, whose marriage happened to be childless.
4) A copy of a petition for retention and/or reacquisition of Philippine citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 by Mrs. Llamanzares, dated July 7, 2006, where she declares under oath that she is a natural-born Filipino born to the Poe couple in Iloilo City on Sept. 3, 1968.This is a false claim which cannot be the source or basis of the reacquisition of her citizenship.
5) A copy of a Bureau of Immigration order dated July 18, 2006, signed “for” Immigration Commissioner Alipio Fernandez Jr. by an unknown hand, granting Mrs. Llamanzares petition for reacquistion of Philippine citizenship. Being based on a false claim under oath, and signed by an unknown hand other than the duly authorized signing officer, this order is patently invalid.
6) A copy of Mrs. Llamanzares’ certificate of candidacy for the Senate, dated Sept. 27, 2012 in Quezon City, saying she is a natural-born Filipino citizen, without any information about her parentage.
These are all flawed documents. In all these, Mrs. Llamansares (and her surrogate mother Jesusa Sonora Poe, in the case of the 2006 certificate of live birth) lied under oath. Why did this hotshot lawyer Francis Escudero allow his political partner to submit these falsified documents to be used as evidence against her? Are people simply daydreaming when they suggest that Chiz Escudero may not be unprepared to make his next move if and when Grace Poe Llamanzares falls off her self-created pedestal?