• MARY GRACE:

    Is she Aquino’s secret card, or is PNoy hers?

    26

    The Tribune report
    A “big businessman,” the Daily Tribune reported last Friday, has been “dangling incentives” to persuade non-Aquino Supreme Court appointees to declare that, contrary to what the Constitution says and what the Commission on Elections has established, Sen. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe Llamanzares, a foundling of no known parentage, is a natural-born citizen, qualified to run for the presidency in the May 9 election. At the same time, President B. S. Aquino 3rd has been working on his own six Court appointees to do the same, the report said.

    Advertisements

    Mrs. Llamanzares wants to face off with Manuel Roxas 2nd, Aquino’s publicly anointed LP presidential candidate; Vice President Jejomar C.

    Binay, the current front-running favorite; and Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who was reported to have suffered a minor illness after hurdling the first round of several disqualification cases.

    But she has been disqualified as a candidate and her Certificate of Candidacy cancelled by the Comelec —first by the First and Second Divisions, and then by the en banc— for falsely representing herself as a natural-born citizen and for lacking the 10-year residency requirement.

    All three rulings arise from four petitions filed by this writer, through legal counsel Manuelito Luna, lawyer Estrella Elamparo, political science professor Antonio Contreras, and Dean of Law Amado Valdez. She has filed a petition for certioriari, alleging grave abuse of discretion, amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction on the part of the Comelec, and asked the Supreme Court to temporarily restrain implementation of the otherwise “final and non-reviewable” Comelec verdict. The request for a temporary restraining order (TRO) was granted, and after five weekly sessions the Oral Arguments on her petition for certiorari are due to wind up this week.

    Is the earth flat?
    A majority decision by the 15-member High Court, finding a grave abuse of discretion, could overturn the Comelec ruling. Not many are predicting or expect it. So long as the Constitution stands, many believe it would be easier for the Geophysical Society of the World (if such an organization exists) to declare that the earth is flat. But this is precisely what, according to the Tribune, both the unnamed “big businessman” and B.S. 3rd would like to accomplish.

    At least two SC members—Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, both Aquino appointees—in their interpellation of Commissioner Arthur Lim, public counsel for the Comelec, have telegraphed their clear support for Mrs. Llamanzares. They tend to support the foundling’s view that, absent any knowledge of her citizenship at birth, her being a Filipino must be presumed. Yet the law does not need a presumption but a fact. Sereno went overboard by doing what some observers described as a ‘filibuster’ to propose a rereading of the Constitution in favor of the foundling, Llamanzares.

    Consistent Constitution
    As the Philippine Constitution, from 1935 through 1973 and 1987, adopts the “jus sanguinis” (right of blood) principle as the basis of Filipino citizenship, it does not consider “foundlings” of no known parentage as citizens. Under the 1935 Constitution, Mrs. Llamanzares needed to have had a Filipino father for her to have been born a Filipino; were she born under the 1987 Constitution, her mother or father should have been a Filipino. As it is, not even she knows that.

    The present Constitution provides that, “no person may be elected president unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines;” and that, “natural-born citizens are those who are citizens from birth, without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their citizenship.”

    These are but some of the clear provisions of the Constitution, which Sereno would apparently like to replace with a text and spirit that would discard the jus sanguinis doctrine and recognize foundlings of no known parentage as natural-born citizens. In that respect, Jardeleza was more benign in interceding for Mrs. Llamanzares. He did not express support for her counsel’s theory that foundlings are natural-born citizens. But he said the Comelec may have “crossed the line” and “violated Mrs. Llamanzares’s right to due process” when it failed to prove that her unknown parents were not Filipinos.

    No need to prove
    Lim calmly refuted this by reminding the Justice that the burden of proof had shifted from the original petitioners to Mrs. Llamanzares when she admitted being a foundling of no known parentage (found abandoned inside the parish church in Jaro, Iloilo, on Sept. 3, 1968.) Lim pointed out that the petitioners and the respondent had stipulated on it.

    A third member—Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, the Benjamin of the Court—had earlier elicited some sharp comments, after he asked Alex Poblador, Mrs. Llamanzares’ counsel, what crime the foundling had committed against her unknown parents, which caused them to abandon her after birth, and referred to some of his own personal circumstances, which made him emphatize with foundlings.

    Leonen’s insight
    I found Leonen’s insight refreshing, worthy of discussion during this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, and I thought I would like to see it enter the debates when Congress decides to enact an appropriate law on foundlings. Regrettably, we must read the Constitution exactly as it is written, not as the more creative among us would like to have it written, or to have had it written. The world must construe according to its wits, and our court must construe according to the law, says Thomas More on the eve of his martyrdom.

    Congress leaders have expressed concern about the unhurried pace of the case. I have been sitting through the last four sessions, but Sereno has declared that after tomorrow’s session, when we, the private petitioners (now respondents) are expected to be finally heard, the parties would have a non-extendible five days to submit their final memoranda so that thereafter the Court could rule.

    Now at the hustings
    Meanwhile, Mrs. Llamanzares has hit the campaign trail, and is now asking voters to vote for her, as though she were a bona fide candidate, with no constitutional or legal impediment. This tends to support reports, separate from the Tribune’s, that some “operatives” have assured Mrs. Llamanzares that she could now rest easy.

    The Tribune story, written by senior reporter Charlie V. Manalo, does not say how the Justices are reacting to the alleged “pressure” from outside. No member of the Court is reported to have succumbed, but in this Lenten season, it is well to remember that even our Lord Jesus Christ was not spared from temptation by the devil during his desert fast of 40 days and 40 nights. As Matthew (4:8-10) tells us, “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me’.”

    Neither can we forget in his holy season that one of the Twelve sold the Master for 30 pieces of silver.

    According to the story, an “influential politician, known to the Justices as a ‘fixer,’ was the one allegedly talking to the magistrates for the businessman, who had allegedly provided the bulk of P674 million Mrs. Llamanzares had spent on TV ads prior to the start of the campaign.

    If this allegation is correct, then a serious crime has been committed. The Securities and Exchange Commission has banned all corporate contributions to political parties and politicians. And funds donated to politicians during the pre-campaign period cannot be considered “political donations” for the simple reason that the law prohibits any official from receiving any financial contribution from anyone outside of the campaign period.

    Crashing PNoy’s bday
    The Tribune story said Mrs. Llamanzares is also the candidate of “Aquino and his Samar Group, led by Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa, and the presidential sisters Ballsy Cruz, Pinky Abellada, Viel Dee and Kris Aquino.” Some columnists have earlier referred to her as PNoy’s “Trojan horse” or “Manchurian candidate.” But it was not until she appeared at PNoy’s 56th birthday party on February 8 under the most unseemly circumstances that the cat was let out of the bag. The Roxas camp says she “gatecrashed” the private party.

    She has tried to refute this by releasing PNoy’s text message inviting her to his party. But from her own narrative, it appears she invited herself to the party. She texted him a birthday message, and asked, “magpapakain ka ba?” (are you hosting any dinner party?), and, for once, he was not boorish enough to say no. So he texted her back, asking her to come to his party. But anyone with any sense of propriety would have begged off, even if she had earlier asked to be invited.

    Who’s whose card?
    Going to that party was pure political harlotry on her part. She obviously wanted to stoke the rumor that she was really his secret card, or better yet, that he was her secret card. And that was how everyone else read it, that is, everyone except Roxas, who did not have the nerve to confront PNoy, like a cuckolded husband who was too afraid to face the consequences of catching his adulterous wife in the act.

    When did this traitorous act begin? Certainly not yesterday. In 2010, he named her Chairman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, while she was still an American citizen. The position requires not only a Filipino citizenship, but above all, by operation of law, a natural-born citizenship, as Sereno revealed in her recent ‘filibuster’.

    Alleged mandate
    In 2013, she became the principal beneficiary of PNoy’s infamous 60-30-10 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine operation. She took 60 percent of the votes, while the opposition took only 30 percent, and the “independents” 10 percent, in nearly every precinct, including those places where she was hardly known. She was credited with 20 million votes soon after the voting, but this had to be trimmed down to 16 million after a few days. It was restored to 20 million only in the end. This is what she likes to call her “mandate.”

    At that time, the propaganda surveys had put two other senatorial candidates as competing head-to-head for the top slot. But she bolted from out of the blue like lightning to grab it. To this day, my friends in Mindanao continue to wonder how she topped the elections in areas where nobody knew her or ever talked about her.

    During the search for a running mate for former DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, Aquino openly courted her, mindless of the fact that under the Constitution a non-natural-born citizen cannot run for President or Vice President. It was only when the foundling said, “the presidency or nothing,” that PNoy and company decided she was not eligible to run for President.

    Roxas’s failure
    But now that the campaign to destroy Vice President Jejomar C. Binay has failed, and the effort to project Roxas as a possible leader has not taken off, Ochoa and company apparently believe the only way to prevent a Binay win would be to activate the Manchurian candidate. For even if the elections were rigged, Malacanang, Smartmatic and the Comelec operatives would still need an apparently popular candidate to make the results of their “hocus PCOS” acceptable to the public.

    Roxas is a totally lost cause, given his unimprovable personality and his poor rapport with the living. There is no refloating his sunken ship from the Philippine Deep. But instead of injecting some intelligence and vigor into the Roxas campaign, Ochoa and company and the big businessman’s operatives seem to have convinced themselves that they stand a better chance trying to persuade some Justices that the Ten Commandments and the Constitution should be read and lived exactly as they want to, and not as they are written.

    Everything we hold dear is now under threat, the honor of the Court and the nation demands that the Justices resist it.

    Share.
    loading...
    Loading...

    Please follow our commenting guidelines.

    26 Comments

    1. Mr Tatad are you not a member of the inner circle of marcos sr during 1968 when she was born i dont read any report that you disproved that she was the love child of your former boss

    2. 1. I hope there is a way that the “fixer” and the wealthy businessman can be identified and exposed, and be charged with bribery. The Tribune reporter who came up with the scoop probably already has an idea of who these two persons are. A little bit more digging and the whole shenanigans will unfold. Maybe a civic-minded Supreme Court staff member who cares about the Constitution can report or testify to such secretive and dishonest maneuverings. A reward for such whistle-blower should be offered. I am willing to contribute to such an award, as I am sure, will a lot of readers of this column.

      2. Justices Sereno, Leonen, and Jardeleza of the Supreme Court (SC) are attempting to run out the clock. Their strategy is very clear: let the “ampon” run; if she wins, then it is all over: the people have spoken. After all, this is the presidency at issue. That is why it is imperative that the decision of the Supreme Court on whether Comelec committed “grave abuse of discretion” in cancelling Llamanzares’ CoC be rendered as soon as possible. If the SC sides with Comelec, then even if the “ampon’s” name is in the ballot, Comelec has no choice but to publicize her disqualification in every place where voting will take place. Votes for Mrs. Llamanzares will not count and will be wasted. The electorate should be given a chance to vote for other presidential candidates.

      3. The elephant in the room for the Comelec Commissioners, and now the SC Justices is Mrs. Llamanzares’ dual citizenship. She supposedly became a dual citizen in July 2006 under RA 9225 (the Dual Citizenship Act). But the latter applies only to natural-born Filipino citizens (NBFC) who have become naturalized citizens of other countries. Apart from the text of the actual Act itself, this NBFC requirement is to be found in many websites of Philippine Consulate Offices. For example, this can be found in the website of the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles, USA:

      “Only natural-born citizens of the Philippines who have lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country may retain/reacquire their Philippine citizenship under this Act”.

      4. Only Associate Justice T. de Castro has noticed the elephant in the room when she meticulously reviewed the application form for dual citizenship. From her Q&A with Commissioner Lim, one cannot help but conclude that Mrs. Llamanzares’ application was approved because she lied on the form when she claimed: a) she was a NBFC, and b) that she was the biological child of Susan Roces and the late FPJ.

      5. It was a bad move or a misstep for the Comelec Commissioners to start counting the residency of Mrs. Llamanzares from July 2006 because, effectively, they accepted her claim that she became a dual citizen on that date. During the 4th hearing Commissioner Lim stated to one of the Justices that July 2006 was chosen rather than October 2010 – the date Mrs. Llamanzares renounced her US citizenship for Philippine Law purposes – because the Commissioners wanted to “accommodate” her, and that they felt “charitable” towards her. Unfortunately, Comelec is not a charity, and it should have followed the Rule of Law, instead of giving in to the “pity me” strategy of Mrs. Llamanzares. If they had done so, her failure to meet the residency test would have been so plain and clear-cut.

      6. Mrs. Llamanzares officially applied to renounce her US citizenship in July 2011. Her application was approved by the US Government in late 2011. She then became “stateless”, as it does not appear that she has applied to become a naturalized Filipino from that date to the present. The SET judges and the Comelec Commissioners were being kind to her when they treated her as one. If the law is applied strictly, she is still stateless as of today.

    3. I was just thinking the hatred he has on GP. Imagine everyday he has ideas that does not have any truth and some ideas are repeated on a daily basis that is so boring to me as a reader. I pray this does not affect your health or your sanity.

    4. You can wright plenty of words, opinions and other things Mr. Tatad, but in the end roxas will win, because not all Filipinos are stupid like you & binays and the other people reading your column and agree with your opinion. Amado Valdes is kumpare of binay, how can we expect fair opinion from him. Mr. tatad is the supporter of Binay, ofcourse he will portray mar as bad guy. Mr. Tatad has no credibility as far as I know, one of the instrument of Martial Law and many others to enumerate. If survey is your basis, meaning binay cheated MAR in the last election, because according to survey the rating of MAR was miles and miles away from Binay.

    5. Felix Servidad on

      If the supreme court justices bowed down from what
      the palace and the business man who support the candidacy of GP and to interpret the constitution as they wanted to, maybe it’s
      about time to abolish our constitution and change it with a new one that can be interpreted by arguments what is happening right now as Sereno and Jardeleza argued. Pnoy needs eight souls of justices to get what he wants and also the media to mislead the public, and the money to buy votes, no problem Abad is ready to provide at the expense of Juan dela Cruz.
      Imagine how many municipalities the entire philippines has times 100 milyon wow that’s a lot of money. Imagine if the entire country have 1,000 municipalities times 100 millions that would be 100 billions . tsik tsik tsik poor Juan dela Cruz.

    6. Poor Mar! , this will be the second time that he will be set aside by the Aquino’s. Look back what happened last vice presidential election where the Aquino’s supported Binay.

    7. The late US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has said that the interpretation of the Constitution should be on “Textualism – holding that a legal text’s ordinary meaning should govern its interpretation, as opposed to inquiries into non-textual sources”. Sereno and her cohorts are stretching their mind and creating some creative interpretation of the Constitution to favor a particular person or case.

    8. If the SC can grant bail to a notorious olde senator because of humanitarian reasons, why should grays paw be different then?

    9. oscar tubalinal on

      am not convince that mar roxas is a lost cause. as an avid observer in this may 9 election and as an ordinary citizen who is a qualified voter, i have had many occasions mingling and talking with people of various status in our society. In these occasions, i seldom hear from them poe, binay, duterte and santiago as their preference for president but instead the one that i will hear is that they will vote for someone who will continue the good things that transpired under the aquino administration, clearly referring to mar roxas. It is therefore my strong conviction that mar roxas will win the presidency.

      • ARTEMIO L MIRANDA on

        i strongly disagree, if this election be held honestly(w/o hocus pcos) Mar Roxas is a sure loser. his number one enemy and eventually can cause his fall is YOLANDA. he can’t runaway or hide from it. even worst the massacre of this SAF 44. which at first was a mis encounter.Either way BAHALA NA SIYA SA BUHAY NIYA.

      • Leodegardo Pruna on

        Two women, if there are no other, would surely be the only ones who will vote for MAR, hook, line and sinker. The fact that he will continue with the “Matuwid na Daan” which is not because he himself is now saying that he will correct whatever is wrong or add ot it, simply shows that he has no mind of his own. God save the Philippines.

    10. That is the lack of Roxas, you are right Mr. Writer, how Mar can have the simple RAPPORT he doesn’t even know the word SYMPATHY, before RAPPORT he has first to have sympathy in order to understand RAPPORT! go go go Duterte! I guess if Duterte wins, the President has that ALAS too in his case if they press him in the Mamasapano…not just to this lady Grace as secret CARD!

    11. As Bono wrote in his column a well known constitutional lawyer, those who are trying to do injustice by eliminating Poe in the presidential race are supporters of other candidates and not even a lawyer pretending to be experts in the interpretation of the constitution. Any thinking voter knows that only Grace Poe stands on the way of the Binay dynasty, your candidate, not the Aquino clone ,foul mouthed Duterte and the fading Santiago. The elimination of Poe will surely alter the balance of political equation paving the way for a Binay preidency but depriving electorates who desperately wanted real reform in our political system and honesty in government service.

    12. As Bono wrote in his column a well known constitutional lawyer, those who are trying to do injustice by moving heaven and earth to eliminate Poe in the presidential race are supporters of other candidates and not even a lawyer pretending to be experts in the interpretation of the constitution. Any thinking voter knows that only Grace Poe stands on the way of the Binay dynasty, your candidate, not the Aquino clone ,foul mouthed Duterte and the fading Santiago. The elimination of Poe will surely alter the balance of political equation paving the way for a Binay preidency but depriving electorates who desperately wanted real reform in our political system and honesty in government service.

    13. A number of Pnoy Aquino’s aides have joined Grace Poe’s campaign and word has it that Pnoy’s PR friend yolly ong, founder of campaigns & grey is also now involved.
      Mar Roxas abandoned again, and would not be surprised if he withdraws once grace poe confirmed as candidate by SC.

    14. Elpidio Montebon, Jr. on

      Neither can the anti.gp camp prove that gp is definitely a non.natural born filipino citizen. They are only presuming. Presumption is not a fact. There being doubt, the issue/s must be resolved in favour of the dehado Grace Poe.

      • Comelec is not making any presumption. The decision is based on the provisions of the Constitution on Citizenship and natural-born Filipino citizens. It is the other side that’s making a presumption because she was found in a church in Jaro.

    15. Sir, you were there, among those closest to FM, surely you must know, “present at the creation” so to say… why not spill the beans now, so they say… is it because you will lose you case at the SC and fearful that GP will have been qualified and win the presidency less than three months from today? Two Aquinos’ and two Marcoses’ and another Marcos in 2022… wow.. we already had two Macapagal. We had one Manuel Roxas before; his grandson is a poor copy… two is a crowd…

    16. When will you stop with your nonsense rantings??
      Time after time I told you in very clear words, that even your distorted mind can comprehend, that law isnt a science which can only be interpreted in a lieterally way.
      Accept your defeat and try to get your life vback on rails!!
      You are not a master in Law so please dont portrait yourself as a Law scholar nor as an an academic in law.
      My advice to you is: pls beg senator Santiago to lecture you for a few months about the legal art of interpretation when iot comes to interpreting law articles, understanding and reading legal verdicts and specially the rulings of a Supreme Court.
      The majority of these so-called lawyers, dont even know how to read and distill the legal question the Supreme Vourt has to rule about in a law suit.
      Another thing: somebody with a Bachellor title cant be a lawyer!! You hv to have a Master certificate in LAWS!!

      • You cannot refute the arguments of Mr. Tatad. So you resort to name calling. How old are you? Instead of commenting, why not spend time educating yourself? Thinking is good for the brain!

        By the way, your heroine, Senator Miriam Santiago barely passed her Bar Examinations! When it comes to a crunch, her so-called law expertise just disappears into the cloud.