If ever I get the chance to meet Sen.Grace Poe in person, I will ask her the following question:
“Madam senator, I hope you will not be offended, but I have to ask you this question because it is bugging a lot of people: Are you really a foundling? Can you prove that you are one?”
The question has to be presented in these existential terms (in much the same way that the French existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre asked his fellow existentialist Albert Camus, “Who are you, Camus?”) because the question of the senator’s identity has really become that serious? And the fate of our nation and the sanity of next year’s presidential election could hang in the balance.
We could be facing here not a sappy Cinderella tale, but a blood-and-guts Manchurian Candidate conspiracy.
I resolved to ask Ms Poe the foundling question after perusing photocopies of the two birth certificates that she and her lawyers presented to the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET).
Poe’s documents belie foundling story
All this time, like many people I had been inclined to accept her sentimental propaganda line that she is a foundling, worthy of the solicitude and sympathy of our people. I read one maudlin article on her in the Inquirer wherein Ms. Poe boasted that her life story is of the stuff of movies.
But to my shock, I found that her birth certificates belie her foundling credentials. These documents were gathered and readied for submission by the law firm of Sen. Francis Escudero, Ms. Poe’s Rasputin and running mate. They did a sloppy job.
The first certificate of live birth, dated Nov. 27, 1968, purports to show that Ms. Poe was born a foundling, and found in the parish church of Jaro, Iloilo on Sept. 3, 1968 at 9:30 am by Edgardo Militar who later put her in the custody of Emiliano Militar of Sta Isabel Street in Jaro.
The typewritten document identifies the child as Mary Grace Natividad Contreras Militar. It also contains a handwritten note of seven short lines that says the child was “adopted by the spouses Ronald Allan Poe and Jesusa Sonora Poe as per Court Order, Municipal Court, San Juan, Rizal, by Judge Alfredo Gorgonio dated May 13, 1974.”
The second certificate of live birth emphatically refutes Ms Poe’s claim that she is a foundling or was adopted. Dated May 4, 2006, or 38 years after Grace Poe was born, this birth certificate was executed by Mrs. Jesusa Sonora Poe (Susan Roces), her adoptive mother, who identifies the child no longer as Mary Grace Natividad Militar but rather as Mary Grace Sonora Poe, allegedly born to herself (Jesusa) and to her husband Ronald Allan Poe in Jaro, Iloilo City on Sept. 3, 1968, several months before they were married on Dec. 25, 1968 in Valenzuela, Bulacan.
The big problem with this claim of Susan Roces is that there is no medical or legal evidence that shows she ever conceived and delivered a child during her marriage to the actor Fernando Poe, Jr. who died on Dec. 13, 2004.
The popular and invincible belief is that Susan Roces is barren and was incapable of conceiving, before she reached menopause. Fernando Poe Jr. on the other hand was not sterile; he fathered several children.
This maternity point can be quickly resolved if Susan Roces and Grace Poe will jointly submit to DNA testing. But this is something which mother and daughter will never consent to do, because the foundling yarn will be unraveled as a hoax, and Ms Roces will be exposed as a liar, which is the sibling of a thief as she famously said.
Milking a false story for political gain
On the way to formally declaring her candidacy for the presidency, Ms. Grace Poe squarely anchored her public persona and political career on the assertion that she is a foundling and an adopted child.
She portrayed herself as a modern-day Cinderella, a figure sprung from fairy tales and the movies. Her publicists made people shed tears by playing up her purported abandoned status. She never missed an opportunity to play a waif. She even filed a strange bill in the Senate to protect the rights of foundlings.
When critics and political rivals laughed at this sentimental spiel, her political strategist and mentor Escudero concocted the gimmick of getting various municipalities to adopt her by resolution of their municipal councils. A number of towns were gullible enough to pass resolutions to this effect.
Some lawyers supporting Ms. Poe have put forward the argument that Ms. Poe’s being a foundling emjoys the presumption that she is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, purportedly because of customary international law and a UN convention. But this is nonsense. The Philippines has not signed that UN convention. And customary international law cannot take precedence over national law.
Our C onstitution is emphatic and clear in its provisions on citizenship: “Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship.”
Grace abandons foundling yarn
Significantly, when Ms. Poe announced her candidacy for president at UP Diliman last week, she omitted mention about being a foundling altogether.
She declared in her speech:
“I, Grace Poe, a Filipino, a daughter and a wife, and with the help of God, am offering myself for higher service as your president.”
Nothing about being a foundling, not even a hint.
Should we take this to mean that her claim to being a foundling can now be consigned to the dustbin of history?
Methinks the foundling claim has been discarded for the sake of maintaining the illusion of credibility for Susan Roces, and because the argument that a foundling enjoys the presumption of citizenship is baseless.
The holes in the foundling story and the contradictions that it entails have forced Ms Poe and her strategists and media consultants to turn completely to the Fernando Poe Jr connection for entertainment and sentimental value. Her public appearances now feature regular screenings of FPJ movies, and a heavy stress on her supposed legacy from her father.
But now she must face the existential challenge of proving she is the biological daughter of Fernando Poe Jr. DNA testing of her with FPJ’s real and living children like Ms. Lovi Poe will prove or disprove the claim that Grace Poe is FPJ’s daughter.
Senator Poe will not take this route.
From Cinderella to the Manchurian Candidate
Yesterday , the Senate electoral Tribunal (SET) opened the period of oral arguments on the disqualification case against Ms. Poe.
I wanted to attend the hearing to hear for myself the quality of the arguments for or against Ms. Poe. I wanted to see whether her lawyers would fare better than the student debaters who were featured in an ANC program called “Square Off,” which I watched last Saturday night. and which showed a live students’ debate on the right of foundlings’ to natural-born citizenship.
The mock debate featured a debating team from Colegio de San Jose- Recoletos, and a team from the University of Santo Tomas. The proposition was that a foundling should be presumed to be a natural born citizen in the country where it is found.
The CSJR students who took the affirmative side were totally helpless. They sounded and looked like soldiers going to war against the US army in Operation Desert Storm or against the Nazi war machine in World War II.
It was a rout from start to finish for UST.
From the information I got from persons involved in the case before the SET, Ms. Poe’s lawyers were not much better equipped than the CSJR debaters.
By October, our people and all corners of the archipelago will know that Ms. Grace Poe is not a foundling at all. And that Grace Poe is not a natural-born Filipino.
This case before the SET will end with the fake foundling losing her seat in the Senate.
And we will move into a new controversy – the existence of a conspiracy to manipulate the 2016 presidential election and install an ineligible candidate in the presidency of the Philippines.
What began as a Cinderella tale is evolving into a plot channeling the gripping political thriller, “the Manchurian candidate.”