Senator Grace Poe personally witnessed oral arguments on her disqualification case at the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday.
She was accompanied by her mother, actress Susan Roces.
Only 13 justices were on hand because Justice Arturo Brion is on leave and Justice Martin Villarama Jr. retired last Friday.
The senator, however, slipped out in the middle of the oral arguments.
Before the en banc session started, Poe expressed confidence that the law will side with her and all abandoned Filipino children who could be stripped of their right to a nationality.
“Matibay ang pananalig natin na kakatigan tayo ng batas sa ipinaglalaban nating karapatan ng mga inabandonang bata. Hindi ko kasi matanggap ang sinasabi ng ilan na ang isang foundling ay ituturing na stateless o walang nasyonalidad pagkapanganak. Responsibilidad ng batas na proteksyunan ang karapatan ng mga mahina at walang laban [I have faith that the law will uphold our fight for abandoned children. I cannot accept what others are saying that foundlings are stateless. It is the law’s responsibility to protect the rights of the weak],” the senator said.
She insisted that foundlings like her should be considered natural-born Filipinos.
“Ang isang bagong panganak na sanggol na inabandona at natagpuan sa Pilipinas ay isang natural na Pilipino. Kung may makakapagpatunay na ang batang ito ay may dugong banyaga, nasa kabilang kampo na po ang responsibilidad na patunayan ang bagay na ito.
Wala po sa ampon ang ‘burden of proof’ o magbigay pruweba na ang kaniyang mga magulang ay hindi Pilipino [An abandoned newborn found in the Philippines is a Filipino.
If someone can prove that this child has foreign blood, then the responsibility to prove this lies with the other camp. The burden of proof does not belong to foundlings],” she pointed out.
Late in December, Poe was disqualified from the presidential race by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on grounds that she is not a natural-born Filipino and she failed to meet the residency requirement.
The High Court, however, stopped the poll body from dropping the senator from the list of presidential candidates.
Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo asked Poe’s counsel Alex Poblador if Poe used her US passport in 2011.
Poblador told the court that Poe’s dual citizenship allows her to continue using her American passport.
Poe’s camp had admitted that the last time the senator used her US passport was on March 9, 2010.
Del Castillo also asked Poblador about the error Poe made in her certificate of candidacy wherein she stated that she resided in the Philippines for 6 years and 6 months.
Poblador said it was an honest mistake and there was no intent to deceive the public.
Poe went out of the session hall before Associate Justice Antonio Carpio started grilling Poblador.
Carpio took Poblador to task for citing the proceedings of the 1934 Constitution.
The magistrate said Poe’s camp failed to quote completely deliberations between Constitutional Convention delegates Nicolas Rafols, Ruperto Montinola and Manuel Roxas pertaining to inclusion of foundlings as a class of persons considered as Philippine citizens.
“You were saying that Mr. Rafols proposed that children of unknown parents should be considered natural-born Filipinos?” Carpio asked Poblador who answered yes.
The magistrate noted that Poe’s camp did not include the entire deliberations.
Rafols wanted foundlings to be considered natural-born Filipinos.
“You missed out the most important part … the next page… here… the president [of the Constitutional Convention]says, ‘Does the gentleman from Cebu insist on his amendment?’ and the president said, ‘Let’s submit it to a vote… the amendment is rejected,’” Carpio pointed out.
“The records of the Constitutional Convention of 1934 clearly state that Mr. Rafols’ proposal was clearly rejected by the majority,” he added.
Despite lingering question on Poe’s citizenship, the Nationalist People’s Coalition, the second largest political party in the country, said the senator remains its top presidential bet.
NPC spokesman Mark Enverga also on Tuesday said Poe is the choice of the majority of the NPC members.
The party also met with Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
“The disqualification cases [against Poe]s not an issue for us. A lot of our members would want to support Senator Grace. She remains the top choice of the party,” Enverga told reporters.
“We are of the belief that she is qualified to run, and the Temporary Restraining Order that was issued by the Supreme Court validates that there was a grave abuse of authority on the part of the Comelec,” Enverga said.
He added that the NPC will support one presidential candidate this year.
“This will be different from the previous one. We are bent on choosing one presidential candidate,” the NPC spokesman said.
Aside from Duterte, the NPC also met with Poe, Vice President Jejomar Binay and administration candidate Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd.
With LLANESCA PANTI