The Commission on Elections’ Second Division sidelined Senator Grace Poe’s defense in the disqualification case filed against her when it ignored her intent to reside in the Philippines that would more than satisfy the 10-year residency requirement, her camp said Wednesday.
Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian, one of the senatorial bets under Poe’s ticket, was referring to the 3-0 vote of the Comelec panel disqualifying the senator from the presidential race because she failed to meet the residency requirement and she is not a natural-born Filipino citizen.
Under the constitution, a presidential candidate must have resided in the Philippines for at least 10 years prior to election day.
Gatchalian said Poe’s reply to the disqualification complaint filed by Estrella Elamparo would show that the senator intended to reside in the Philippines for good as early as 2004 because she resigned from her job in the United States in 2004, enrolled her two children in Philippine schools in June 2005, bought a condominium unit with her husband in San Juan in 2006, moved her belongings from the US in February 2006 and sold her and her husband’s US home in April 2006.
“The threshold date is May 8, 2006. The relevant question now is did Sen. Grace do anything prior to May 8, 2006 to show that she intended to permanently reside in the Philippines? The facts resoundingly say yes. The residency issue is simple arithmetic,” Gatchalian pointed out.
“One need not be a lawyer to see that Senator Poe has surpassed the 10-year residency requirement to run for president. It is clear that she and her family are not going back to the US. They wanted to live here for good. But these facts were ignored, fueling speculation about the circumstances surrounding the decision of the Second Division. You cannot blame people if they suspect something fishy,” he added.
Dean Tony La Viña of the Ateneo School of Government agreed with Gatchalian.
“The key word in determining issues of residency in election law is intent but nowhere in the 34 pages of the Second Division Resolution was there ever a discussion of Poe’s intent to abandon her residence in the United States and live in the Philippines,” La Viña said.
“The question of residence in election law is largely one of intention. It means intention to reside in a fixed place, personal presence in that place, and conduct indicative of such intention,” he added.