A third disqualification case has been filed with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) against presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe
Franciso Tatad–a former senator, information minister of the Marcos administration and a Manila Times columnist–filed the latest petition on Monday, which his lawyer said has a “deeper impact” than the two earlier complaints filed against her.
Tatad said Poe should not be allowed to run in the 2016 elections because she violates Article 7, Section 2 of the Constitution, which lists down the qualifications for presidential candidates.
He argued that the senator could not say she is a natural-born Filipino because she is a foundling who could not say who her real parents are.
Moreover, Tatad claimed that Poe also failed to fulfill the 10-year residency requirement prescribed in the Constitution.
Tatad’s lawyer Manuelito Luna is also the lawyer of radio commentator and presidential candidate Rizalito David in the disqualification case filed against Poe with the Senate Electoral Tribunal.
While Tatad’s petition also questioned the senator’s qualifications on citizenship and residency grounds, he also asked the Comelec to disqualify her from running for any public office for life.
“If we are favored, if we are sustained here, then she will be forever barred from running for any elective position in the Philippines for being not a citizen of the Philippines,” Tatad’s lawyer said.
“There’s a world of difference between cancelation of COC (certificate of candidacy) and a petition for disqualification. In so far as effects are concerned, ours would be a deeply impacted result if ever we will win this case as compared to the petition filed by Attorney [Estrella] Elamparo,” he added.
Elamparo’s petition was filed last Friday, October 16, the last day of the filing of COC.
Her petition called on the Comelec to deny due course or cancel Poe’s COC for President.
Earlier in August, David sought Poe’s disqualification with the Senate Electoral Tribunal and the Comelec.
He questioned Poe’s citizenship, period of residency in the Philippines and eligibility to run for public office.
“In so far as our petition is concerned, the Tatad petition covers only two grounds and these are constitutional grounds–the grounds of lack of citizenship, natural-born status and failure to reach the 10-year residence requirement,” Luna explained.
In his 218-page petition, Tatad cited Rule 25 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure, which states that “any candidate who does not possess all the qualifications of a candidate as provided for in the Constitution or by existing law or who commits any act declared by law to be ground for disqualification may be disqualified from continuing as a candidate.”
He pointed out that his disqualification petition was fully compliant with Comelec rules, which allow it to be filed only on any day after the last day of the filing of COC but not later than the date of proclamation.
Tatad said Poe is not a natural-born citizen and failed to meet the 10-year residency requirement for one to be eligible or qualified to be a candidate for President, adding that he was not aware of any petition of similar nature that has been filed after the deadline of the filing of COC.
His lawyer clarified that the filing of petitions for disqualification or cancelation of COC, under Comelec rules, is only authorized after the filing of COC, which is October 16, and if one is filed before that, it is a prohibited filing.
But Luna said whether the Elamparo petition is valid is for the Comelec to decide.
The Tatad petition cited provisions from the 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions and other related laws that it claimed have established that Poe is not a natural-born citizen based on her status as a foundling, among other circumstances.
It said the 1935 Constitution, the prevailing legal regime when Poe was born, the state of natural-born citizenship could be acquired only by descent from a known Filipino father or mother.
“Poe does not know her biological parents, being a foundling. She could not, therefore, categorically claim natural-born citizenship by descent from the sheer lack of known bloodline ascendancy,” the Tatad petition added.
The succeeding 1973 Constitution, it said, preserved the “jus sanguinis” as the basic foundation of citizenship and expanded its application by placing the Filipino woman on the same level as the male in matters of citizenship.
The prevailing 1987 Constitution, meanwhile, defines natural-born citizens as those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship, which, the petitioner said, is contrary to Poe’s acquisition of her Filipino citizenship.
Tatad also cited Article VII, Section 2, of the 1987 Constitution which provides, “No person may be elected President unless he is natural-born citizen of the Philippines a registered voter, able to read and write, at least forty years of age on the day of the election[s]and a resident of the Philippines for not less than 10 years immediately preceding such election[s].”
In her COC for senator in 2013, Poe declared that her period of residence in the Philippines before the May 13, 2013 elections is “6 years and 6 months.”
“Adding this period to period between May 13, 2013 and election day (second Monday of May 2016), the total would be 9 years, 5 months and several days, shy of the minimum 10 years,” he said.
“It is what the Constitution provides and anyone who aspires to be President should first be a candidate of the Constitution. The first oath that a President-elect swears to is to preserve and defend the Constitution,” Tatad added.
“One seeking the presidency should be constitutionally qualified, and there are no ifs and buts in this. Being not a natural-born Filipino citizen and for failing to meet the minimum residency qualification, respondent should be disqualified from running for President, lest the commission will countenance a grievous violation of the fundamental law,” he said.
In a statement, lawyer George Garcia, Poe’s counsel, said Tatad is entitled to his opinion and they respect that.
“It is, however, our position that all the requirements to seek for higher office have been met by Sen. Grace Poe,” he added.
Valenzuela City (Metro Manila) Mayor Rexlon Gatchalian, spokesman for both Poe and the Nationalist People’s Coalition, labeled the latest disqualification case as a “dirty tactic.”
“It’s sad that dirty tactics are continuously being employed to derail the presidential bid of Sen. Poe,” he said.
Gatchalian added that after Poe topped surveys on presidential bets in July “she has been in the receiving end of baseless suits that are meant to harass [her].”
Tatad’s move, according to the mayor, was a demonstration that “clearly sinister minds have launched a pre-meditated and concerted effort to condition the minds of the public that Sen. Poe will be disqualified.”
“Sen. Poe is ready to face these harassment suits in the proper forum. We are confident all these suits will be dismissed because the law is on her side. Documents that will show that she has met all the requirements to seek the presidency has already been made public. These documents will answer these suits on all fours and will bear her out,” Gatchalian said.
He added that the disqualification charges slapped on Poe were indeed “very sad [because]rather than focusing the discourse on platforms and plans, some quarters would rather employ dirty tricks. Despite this, we will not engage them in that realm.”
“[I]nstead [we will]focus on positive campaigning through laying out our platform of governance that aims to make [economic]growth inclusive. Walang maiiwan [No one will be left behind],” Gatchalian said.
Ex-Sen. Francisco ‘Kit’ Tatad shows a copy of his petition for disqualification filed against Sen. Grace Poe at the Commission on Elections office in Intramuros, Manila on Monday, October 19. Poe has filed her certificate of candidacy for president for the 2016 elections. Roy Lozano
Reached for their comments, Poe’s spokesperson and Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian described the latest case against the senator as another “dirty tactic” intended to derail her presidential bid.
“Since topping the presidential surveys, she (Poe) has been in the receiving end of baseless suits that are meant to harass. Clearly, sinister minds have launched a pre-meditated and concerted effort to condition the minds of the public that Sen. Poe will be disqualified,” Gatchalian said in a text message.
Gatchalian expressed confidence that the disqualification cases filed against Poe will be disqualified even as he maintained that their camp is ready to face these suits “in the proper forum.”
“The documents that will show that she has met all the requirements to seek the presidency has already been made public. These documents will answer these suits on all fours and will bear her out,” he said.
Despite the growing number of cases Poe is facing, Gatchalian said the senator will continue to mount a “positive campaign” by laying out her platform of governance to voters.
Meanwhile, Poe’s legal counsel, George Gracia, said Tatad is entitled to his opinion but added that his client has met all the requirements in seeking the highest elective post in the country.
“Every Filipino has the right to avail of the remedies afforded by law. The former senator is entitled to his opinion and we will respect that. In the end, the rule of law prevails and the vibrancy of our democracy is sustained,” Garcia said.
“It is, however, our position that all the requirements to seek for higher office have been met by Sen. Grace Poe, he added.
Last week, lawyer Estrella Elamparo filed a disqualification case against Poe over the senator’s supposed failure to satisfy the citizenship and residency requirements for a presidential candidate under the country’s laws.
Elamparo, a former counsel for the Government Service Insurance System, said she filed the case in her individual capacity as a registered voter and not for any candidates or group.
– See more at: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/541174/news/nation/ex-senator-tatad-files-disqualification-case-vs-grace-poe#sthash.AoaEECaS.dpuf
WITH NELSON S. BADILLA