Sen. Grace Poe is a natural-born citizen under the Constitution, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has insisted before the Supreme Court, making her eligible to run for President in the May 2016 elections.
The OSG last Tuesday cited “substantial evidence” based on the 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions.
“The inclusive policy to consider foundlings as natural-born Filipino citizens is carried over into the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions. As with the 1935 Constitution, the deliberations of 1973 and 1987 Constitutions are bereft of any evidence to show any change in the policy begun in 1935,” Solicitor General Florin Hilbay stated.
The OSG told the High Court that a foundling like Poe must be considered a natural-born Filipino and that she has satisfied the 10-year residency requirement to be eligible for the presidency.
In an 11-page memorandum before the SC, Hilbay argued that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has committed grave abuse of discretion in canceling the certificate of candidacy of Poe over the citizenship and residency issues.
He had presented figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) that the probability of a child born in the Philippines is a Filipino is more than 99.99 percent.
It will now be absurd to think, the Solicitor General said, that any foundling could not have Filipino parentage.
PSA records show that from 2010 to 2014, on a yearly average, there were 1,766,046 children born in the Philippines to Filipino parents, as opposed to 1,301 children born in the Philippines of foreign parents.
“Petitioner’s physical features [height of 5 feet 2 inches, brown eyes, dark brown hair, low nasal bridge and an oval-shaped face],.. are consistent with the physical features of the ordinary Filipino. And circumstances of when she was found [she was found abandoned in a Roman Catholic Church in Jaro, Iloilo, the population of which was predominantly Filipino]” point to Poe being a Filipino, Hilbay said.
He also argued that the senator regained her natural-born Philippine citizenship when she availed of repatriation under Republic Act 9225.
“She executed an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines on 07 July 2006; and she filed with the Bureau of Immigration a petition for reacquisition of Philippine citizenship on 10 July 2006, which was granted in an order dated 18 July 2006,” Hilbay said.
On the residency issue, he noted that Poe had validly renounced her US citizenship and has been a resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years before the May 9, 2016 polls.
“The Comelec decision to shift the burden of evidence on petitioner places an undue burden on the exercise of a fundamental political right of a member of a discrete and insular minority that has a right to equal protection in general and a right to ‘equal access to opportunities for public service,’” Hilbay said.