Sen. Grace Poe on Monday admitted she is “worried” about the outcome of a disqualification filed against her before the Senate Electoral Tribunal, but said she is still confident that members of the tribunal would come up with a fair decision.
“I’m praying and hoping that the members of the [electoral tribunal]will be fair on their decision. I will be very happy if they will vote in my favor,” Poe said in an interview after attending the 1st International Symposium on Moringa held in Quezon City
The 9-member Senate body, which is composed of nine members–three from the judiciary and six from Senate–will be meeting on Tuesday and vote on the disqualification case filed by radio commentator Rizalito David.
David in his petition wants Poe unseated as senator for her failure to meet the constitutional requirements, particularly on citizenship.
He argued that for being a founding, Poe is stateless. The senator also failed to meet the residency requirement set by th 1987 Constitution, David said.
The 47-year-old senator was found abandoned inside the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral shortly after she was born in 1967. She was later adopted by celebrity couple Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces.
Grace Poe, then a naturalized US citizen, went back to the Philippines after her father suffered a massive stroke that eventually resulted in his death in 2004. She renounced her
US citizenship in 2010 to pave the way for her appointment as chairman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.
Banking on the residual popularity of her late father, Poe ran for senator in the 2013 elections and topped the polls, garnering 20.3 million votes or 50.6 percent of the total votes cast.
David, the petitioner in the SET case, placed a dismal 30th in the same elections with 1.03 million votes.
Poe told reporters also on Monday that the disqualification case does not only concern her but also the thousands of children and individuals who are also in the same situation as
She said they are also the reason why she really wants to win the case.
The senator added that while she can still appeal the decision, in case the electoral tribunal rules in David’s favor, it will already have an effect on the status of other foundlings in the country who stand to lose their citizenship.
Poe said she will continue to fight for what she believes is right for the sake of the 20 million Filipinos who voted for her and trusted her.
The senator added that she is also praying for some members of the trbunal, who might have their respective political considerations, that they will consider the law as something to uphold what is fair and right.
Poe did not name members of the tribunal whom she said may have such considerations but noted that like her, they are also for the promotion of the rights of the children, the poor and in ensuring that everyone is given equal opportunity.
“This is their chance to prove that they are sincere with their advocacy,” she said.
The tribunal is headed by Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and its members are SC Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and Arturo Brion and Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th, Nancy Binay, Pia Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Vicente Sotto 3rd and Cynthia Villar.
Carpio voted to disqualify Fernando Poe Jr., or FPJ, when he ran for President in 2004 against then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
According to Carpio, Poe Jr., was unable to prove that he was a Filipino citizen, also noting that the actor was an illegitimate child who took on the citizenship of his American mother.
In his dissenting opinion, he said, “[A]ny person who claims to be qualified to run for President because he is, among others, a natural-born Philippine citizen, has the burden of proving he is a natural-born citizen. Any doubt whether or not he is natural-born citizen is resolved against him.”
Carpio also reportedly financed the book of the former Director of National Archives Ricardo Manapat, who was accused to have fabricated documents to support the disqualification case against Poe Jr.
Manapat was appointed to the National Archives in 1996 by President Fidel Ramos and reappointed to the same position in 2002 until his death in 2008.
Victorino Fornier, the petitioner in FPJ’s disqualification case, used a supposedly earlier marriage between FPJ’s father, Allan Poe Sr., and one Paulita Gomez to establish that FPJ was illegitimate because his father was married to someone else at the time of his marriage to his American mother, Bessie Kelley.
Manapat also produced the alleged affidavit of the same Paulita Gomez charging Poe Sr. of bigamy and the alleged birth certificate of Poe Sr.
But his subordinates at the National Archives identified as Remmel Talabis, Vicelyn Tarin and Emman Llamera admitted that it was Manapat who ordered them to forge all documents relating to FPJ.
They also testified before a Senate investigation that no such documents produced by Manapat ever existed in the National Archives.
The Senate issued a resolution recommending that Manapat be charged with forgery.
He was later charged with forgery at the Sandiganbayan but the charges were dropped after the main witnesses recanted their statements.
Nancy Binay is the daughter of Vice President Jejomar Binay, the standard-bearer of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) while Aquino is a member of the Liberal Party (LP), which has former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd as candidate for President.