“There is no dispute that respondent Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares is a Filipino citizen, as she publicly claims to be. However, she has failed to prove that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen and is thus not qualified to sit as Member of the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines pursuant to Section 3, Article VI of the 1987 Contitution.”
This was the opening statement in the 35-page dissenting opinion of Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on the disqualification case filed against the senator with the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET).
The SET on Saturday released digital copies of the separate dissenting opinion of three justice-members in the nine-man tribunal that heard the case filed by radio commentator Rizalito David.
Carpio, chairman of the SET, along with Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, and Arturo Brion voted to disqualify Poe to continue sitting in the Senate after they found legal merit on David’s petition. David, who lost in the 2013 senatorial elections topped by Poe, questioned her citizenship. He argued that being a foundling with no known biological parents, the 47-year-old Poe is not a natural-born citizen because she cannot show a blood relation to a Filipino father or mother and thereby disqualified from running for senator.
The SET, which voted 5-4 to dismiss the quo warranto petition also counted Sen. Nancy Binay as among those who dissented from the majority.
Among the SET members who voted to keep Poe in the Senate were: Senators Vicente Sotto 3rd, Pia Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Cynthia Villar, and Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th.
In their dissenting opinion, the justices declared, “[Poe] is not a natural-born Filipino citizen.”
“There is no Philippine law [that]automatically conferring Philippine citizenship to a foundling at birth. Even if there were, such law would only result in the foundling being a naturalized Filipino citizen, not a natural-born Filipino citizen,” Carpio’s opinion on the issue, read.
Carpio said there is no legal presumption in favor of the Philippine citizenship whether natural-born or naturalized.
“There is no treaty, customary international law or a general principle of international law granting automatically Philippine citizenship to a foundling at birth.
“[Even if there is a customary international law, it]…cannot prevail over our Constitution…[which]identifies natural-born Filipino citizens as only those whose [parents]are Filipino citizens; [Poe] failed to discharge her burden to proof that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen; a foundling has to…prove his or her status as foundling to acquire Philippine citizenship,” Carpio said.
De Castro, for her part, urged that the tribunal uphold the 1987 Constitution and “not bow to any other rule…”
Brion meanwhile stressed that the 1987 Constitution provides clear language that “no person shall be a senator unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines…”
The Constitution, he added, defined who natural-born citizens are.
Noting that “citizenship is not automatically conferred under the international conventions,” de Castro proposed that lawmakers should enact a law by which citizenship can be acquired.