The Supreme Court should take into account the welfare of thousands of Filipino foundlings in deciding if Senator Grace Poe is qualified to run for president in next year’s elections.
“We don’t have yet a precedent on a foundling running for a public office. The basic issue is whether they are citizens of the Philippines. We have about 250,000 foundlings and if you say Senator Poe is not natural-born, then you are saying that these thousands of foundlings are not natural-born citizens,” Legarda said a forum in Quezon City yesterday.
She said a foundling is presumed a natural-born citizen. Hence, Poe is qualified to run for president.
Legarda claimed there is no need to prove Poe’s biological mother. She said Philippine laws say that a Filipino is considered natural-born if one of the parents is a Filipino.
“If you will require each foundling to prove that one of his or her parents is a Filipino, just imagine the enormous effort every foundling will exert notwithstanding the expense in looking for your parents,” she said.
Legarda said the SC must decide based on international laws that guarantee statehood to foundlings. And, Philippines is a signatory to these international laws.
Legarda is referring to 1954 United Nations Convention on Statelessness, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. She said the 1987 Constitutions recognized these laws as laws of the land, as “generally accepted international laws.”
The two divisions of the Commission on Elections disqualified Poe from vying for higher public office for her failure to prove the 10-year-residency and the natural born requirements of the Constitution.
Poe will have to elevate the case before the Supreme Court, as her last recourse in her bid to the presidency after only three years in the senate.
The appeal is expected to be filed anytime this coming week, putting pressure to SC to decide quickly.
The 47-year-old senator is the adopted daughter of the late Fernando Poe Jr. and actress Susan Roces.
The elder Poe died in December 2004, a few months after the elections where he ran and lost by a slim margin to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in a controversy-marred polls.
The younger Poe, who had been living in the United States and had acquired American citizenship, returned to Manila and was appointed as head of the Movie and Television Review Board (MTRCB) by President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Poe topped the 2013 mid-term senatorial elections.
She was earlier being eyed by the administration-backed Liberal Party to tandem with its standard bearer, Manuel Roxas 2nd after pre-election surveys show her closing in on opposition standard bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Poe rejected the administration party’s offer and decided to gun for Malacañang as an independent. Her ratings further increased and eventually dislodged Binay. It was at this point when radio commentator Rizalito David petitioned the Senate Electoral Tribunal to nullify her victory in the 2013 elections on the ground that she failed to meet the constitutional requirements for the position.
David argued that for being a foundling with no known biological Filipino parents, Poe could not lay claim to being a natural-born citizen.
The same argument was used by four others in questioning her certificate of candidacy for President with the Commission on Elections.
The SET, in a 5-4 vote, had ruled to dismiss David’s petition while the two Comelec divisions ruled to cancel Poe’s COC.
The SET ruling is under appeal with the Supreme Court while the other disqualification cases are being reviewed by the Comelec en banc.