‘I have no reason to doubt her integrity’ – Grace Poe
“I have no reason to doubt her integrity.”
Embattled Sen. Grace Poe made this statement on Wednesday as she said her adoptive mother, actress Susan Roces, would not be subjected to DNA testing as her camp continues to search for a solid link that would prove that her biological parents were Filipinos.
“I haven’t put my mom under DNA test because I have no reason to doubt her [integrity]and what she has told me about how my life unfolded is not a secret from everybody here,” Poe told reporters.
The 47-year-old senator, who is running for President in next year’s elections, is facing multiple disqualification cases—all questioning her claim to being a natural-born citizen, a key constitutional requirement for those aspiring to become the nation’s leader.
Poe on Monday managed to secure two temporary restraining orders—one each for the two Commission on Elections rulings canceling her certificate of candidacy.
A separate case assailing her claim to being a natural-born Filipino before the Senate Electoral Tribunal has reached the Supreme Court.
Under Article 7, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution, in order to serve as President, one must be at least 40 years old and above; a registered voter, able to read and write; a Filipino citizen by birth; and a resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years immediately preceding elections.
Poe’s opponents mainly argued that she could not lay claim to being a natural-born citizen as it is yet to be established that her biological parents were Filipinos.
The senator was said to have been abandoned as a newborn in a church in Jaro, Iloilo.
She was later adopted by celebrity couple Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces.
Poe Jr. or FPJ was the “King of Philippine Movies” and ran for President in 2004. He lost in the controversial elections to then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. FPJ died a few days after suffering a massive stroke six months after the elections.
Apparently capitalizing on her adoptive father’s popularity, Grace Poe ran for senator and topped the senatorial elections in 2013.
Radio commentator Rizalito David questioned her qualification in a quo warranto petition before the Senate Electoral Tribunal and sought to nullify her proclamation as one of the winners on the ground that she is not a natural-born citizen for being a foundling with no known biological parents.
Poe’s camp has been scouring Western Visayas for leads about her biological parents.
A retired judge has even offered a P300,000 reward to anyone who could give any solid information about the senator’s parentage.
Finding Poe’s biological link would automatically flush down petitions assailing her citizenship, but previous DNA tests on possible biological relatives have turned out negative.
The Supreme Court has set oral arguments on Poe’s disqualification cases on January 19.
Poe conceded that finding her relatives has always been a tough ordeal.
“It’s no less an emotional issue as I was looking for them before. As a child, of course, you are curious… a little bit sad, disappointed, that the parents I grew up with were not really my parents. But my [adoptive]parents assured me that all will be well and provided me opportunities [to grow].
The positive thing in the search, according to Poe, is that she has been given the opportunity to meet well-meaning families who want to help her.
“They are kind and decent, and how I really wish I am really related to them,” she said.
“The search is both difficult and easy because while you get disappointed, there is also that great possibility of knowing the truth and creating a future for the children who are also foundlings,” Poe added.
GMA News on Tuesday reported that Poe’s camp had the remains of her alleged biological parents exhumed from the East Valencia Public Cemetery in Buenavista town in Guimaras for DNA testing.
A lawyer and a forensic pathologist were overseeing the process, the GMA News report said.
“First to be exhumed were the remains of Victoria Rodriguez, who is believed to be Poe’s biological mother.
A bone fragment from her thigh was extracted for DNA testing,” the report said.
“Also exhumed were the bodies of Francisco Montañez and his son Paquito to determine the paternal line of the senator. It is believed that either Francisco or Paquito was the real father of Poe, thus DNA samples needed to be extracted from both their remains,” the report added.
DNA samples from Rodriguez’s surviving siblings were also taken.
The DNA testing will be done in Manila, the report said.
Poe’s spokesman, however, clarified that it was the Rodriguez family that offered to have Victoria’s remains exhumed.
Valenzuela City(Metro Manila) Mayor Rex Gatchalian, the senator’s spokesman, said it was Poe’s lawyers who spoke to the Rodiguez family.
He added that Poe was in fact saddened after learning about the exhumation.
“The Rodriguez family offered this option because they also wanted to know the truth once and for all,” Gatchalian said in a statement.
While he admitted that Poe personally met the Rodriguez family during her last visit to Iloilo, she was not involved in arranging the DNA testing.
Gatchalian said that while the families expressed their willingness to help Poe in her search, they are also asking media to respect their privacy and not to air or show footage of the exhumation process.