Makabayan bloc: We are patriotic but realistic
Sen. Grace Poe’s previous record as an American citizen is a non-issue for the so-called Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares, a member of the progressive bloc, noted that Makabayan has a higher standard for patriotism than a citizenship history.
“Yes, we are for patriotic and nationalist, but we are also realistic. For us, patriotism is abrogating the VFA [Visiting Forces Agreement] and the EDCA [Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement] because the presence of American troops violates our sovereignty and kills our people, but we know that nobody from them would say that. Based on our standards, we can’t really say who is more patriotic than the others, so we find basis of unity based on the platform of governance,” Colmenares said.
He recently declared his intention to run for the Senate and is reportedly slotted in Poe’s senatorial ticket.
A petition assailing the constitutionality of the VFA and EDCA is pending with the Supreme Court.
Colmenares said the Makabayan bloc, which is composed of congressional representatives from the Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Kabataan and Anakpawis party-lists, would go by the platforms of prospective presidential candidates.
Poe’s 20-point platform, which she presented last week when she declared her intention to run for President, is the closest to what Makabayan espouses.
“We would still have a convention next week, but personally I am inclined to support Senator Poe because her record is free from corruption, she has handled her Senate duties well, and we have points of agreement based on her 20-point platform,” Colmenares said.
Poe is facing a disqualification case before the Senate Electoral Tribunal and the Commission on Elections because of questions on her citizenship.
A foundling adopted by celebrity couple Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces, the younger Poe pursued higher education in the United States where she eventually renounced her Filipino citizenship and became an American citizen.
She returned to the country for good after the death of her father in 2004.
In 2010, she reacquired her Filipino citizenship and was appointed chairman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board by President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
“Initially, we were deciding between Mayor [Rodrigo] Duterte and Senator Poe since our constituents from Mindanao favor Mayor Duterte. But the mayor has withdrawn from the race so the only one left for our consideration is Senator Poe, and a lot of what she wants to do is in tune with us,” according to Colmenares.
He earlier said Senate Electoral Tribunal chairman and Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio is being discriminatory when he said Poe is merely naturalized because the Constitution does not state anything about foundlings.
Colmenares cited Article 4, Section 2 of the Constitution, which defines a natural-born Filipino citizen as a citizen of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship.
That definition covers Poe’s case.
“Since Senator Grace was presumed a citizen when she was born, she did not perform any act to be a Filipino and therefore, is a natural-born citizen,” Colmenares said.
But for Parañaque City (Metro Manila) Rep. Gus Tambunting, it cannot be immediately assumed that Poe, a foundling, is a natural-born Filipino citizen as required by the Constitution for a presidential candidate.
The 1987 Constitution does not have a provision on foundlings.
In the same vein, the Charter does not state that foundlings are naturalized, not natural-born.
“We have to respect our Constitution. We must follow it to the letter. Otherwise, that would set a dangerous precedent for our elections. I see this being resolved once we know who her parents are,” Tambunting, a member of the United Nationalist Alliance led by Vice President Jejomar Binay, told reporters.
Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat agreed with Tambunting that the burden of proof lies with Poe.
“The [electoral tribunal]should immediately decide on it, if there is a legislation needed for that or otherwise. This is a test case, but the best scenario for her is really to find out the identity of her parents because under existing laws, you are a natural-born Filipino if one of your parents is a natural-born Filipino,” Lobregat said.
Erap will run if…
Deposed president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada might seek the presidency if the Senate Electoral Tribunal unseats Poe.
“That is possible unless there will be other candidates because to maintain our democracy, you cannot be one candidate only, people must have a choice, but that is possible. Wait for the decision of the Senate Electoral Tribunal or the Supreme Court,” Estrada said.
But the former president clarified that at the moment, he is determined to seek reelection.
“Right now, I’m determined more to run for reelection because as I have said, Manila now is behind the neighboring cities and it is the capital. So, it’s a challenge to bring back Manila to its old glory,” he said.
WITH JAIME R. PILAPIL