SENATOR Grace Poe on Tuesday announced that she has asked the Senate Electoral Tribunal to dismiss a petition to unseat her from the Senate, arguing that the period to question her qualification had already lapsed.
She also announced that she has submitted her birth and travel documents to the quasi-judicial body, which would determine if the petition filed by radio commentator Rizalito David has merit.
The electoral tribunal last week issued Resolution 15-04 ordering the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) to produce Poe’s complete travel records, citizenship papers and immigration records, including those when she was still an American citizen as well as her birth certificate.
Although the order was issued to the BI and the PSA (which was identified in the resolution by its former name, the National Statistics Office), Poe said she voluntarily submitted the documents since it is also part of her reply to the petition filed by David.
David, a former aide to then-senator Francisco Tatad and who once worked for the Liberal Party in the early 1990s, unsuccessfully ran for senator in the 2013 elections, which Poe topped.
Poe is widely believed to be running for higher office in next year’s polls after wresting the lead in pre-election surveys in both presidential and vice presidential public preferences.
In her reply to David’s petition, the senator noted that qualifications of a senator may only be questioned within 10 days upon proclamation.
David, in his petition, claimed that Poe lacks the residency requirement for her to be eligible to run for the Senate.
“It is clear in the Rules of the [Senate Electoral Tribunal] that such may only be questioned within ten days after proclamation. More than two years have passed since Senator Grace Poe was elected and proclaimed as a senator, thus, her qualifications may no longer be questioned,” Poe’s petition read.
For the same reason, Sen. Poe’s citizenship, as part of the qualification of a senator, can no longer be questioned, it said.
Poe’s camp said while the citizenship of a senator may be questioned at any time, such rule only applies to one who changed his or her citizenship after being proclaimed as a senator, or if the senator concealed his or her foreign citizenship when he or she filed her certificate of candidacy.
Also according to Poe’s camp, such is not the case with Poe, because she did not change her citizenship after she was proclaimed and she never concealed anything regarding her life and background.
“From the very start, the entire country knows that Sen. Grace Poe is a foundling and was adopted by a kind-hearted couple, FPJ (Fernando Poe Jr.) and Susan Roces,” the senator stated in her 107-page reply.
Poe’s lawyers pointed out that those who believe that a foundling is not a natural-born Filipino should have filed a petition against Poe within 10 days after she was proclaimed senator.
“Nevertheless, she was elected by more than 20 million Filipinos–this just shows that the entire country, in a way, has decided that a foundling is a natural-born Filipino. There is no power stronger than the voice of the entire Filipino people,” Poe said