Sereno and the perversion of our citizenship law

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Whoever convinced Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno to champion the cause of Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares, has wound her up like a ventriloquist’s dummy, she now squeaks like one.

Whoever that person is has kept her amply supplied with arguments (to say nothing of perks) to place before her colleagues in the Supreme Court, arguments which she has dutifully mouthed no matter how nonsensical and fallacious.

The hidden persuader exacted from Sereno such a firm commitment, she now finds it impossible to get off the train of Ms. Poe’s bid for the presidency, even when the prestige of her office is being compromised.

Why would this lady stake the apex of her legal career on an enterprise as dubious as conferring natural-born citizenship on a person of unknown origins and parentage, and enabling that person to vie and perhaps even win the highest office of the land?


Why would she espouse the misreading and amendment of the Constitution by the SC when it is neither empowered nor requested to change the law of the land?

No shift from jus sanguines to jus soli

Many observers at last Tuesday’s oral arguments on Ms. Poe’s disqualification cases were astonished by Chief Justice Sereno’s line of questioning, which ran the gamut from the fallacious to the absurd to the weird.

Sereno’s weirdest line was to lie that Philippine nationality law has magically shifted from the jus sanguines principle to the jus soli principle in determining Filipino citizenship.
Let us quickly disabuse her of this delusion.

In article IV of the Constitution which explicitly covers the subject of citizenship, it is clearly and plainly stated:

“Section 1. the following are citizens of the Philippines:

(1) Those who are citizens of the Philipines at the time of the adoption of the constitution;

(2) Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines;

(3) Those born before January 17. 1973, of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of maturity; and

(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.”

By implication of this article, Philippine nationality law is based on the principle of jus sanguines (Latin: right of blood) and therefore descent from a parent who is a citizen or national of the Republic of the Philippines is the primary method of acquiring Philippine citizenship.

This is contrasted with the legal principle of jus soli (Latin, right of soil) where being born on the soil of a country, even to foreign parents, grants one citizenship.

This section and its meaning is so clear and precise, there is no room for confusion as to who is or who is not a citizen.

And yet, our Supreme Court Chief Justice, Lourdes Sereno, refuses to accept the letter and spirit of our nationality law.

During the oral arguments, Sereno brought purity of race into the discussion, as though this is a subject of our nationality law. She deliberately misrepresented the jus sanguines principle as decreeing “purity of race” as though our constitution espouses something similar to Hitler‘s decree for the purity of the Aryan race.

This is both perverse and absurd. There is no mention of purity of race in the Constitution, just as there is no mention of foundlings there. What is mentioned is the essential condition of descent from a Filipino parent, for a person to become a natural-born citizen.

Where does Justice Sereno get these crazy arguments and ideas? Which law office and which oligarch is feeding her these lines?

Poe’s strategy of avoidance

The entire strategy of Senator Poe is centered on avoiding issues central to the case before the high court. This is manifest on two key questions:

First, the Poe strategy seeks to avoid the key issue that was brought to the SC – which is whether Ms. Poe is a natural-born Filipino citizen. It seeks to shift the discusssion to the plight of foundlings and what will benefit foundlings.

Second, the Poe strategy studiously avoids mention of the explicit provisions on citizenship in the Constitution, particularly the jus sanguines principle. Instead it diverts attention to irrelevant matters like customary international law and our adoption laws.

Senator Poe and her lawyers, and consequently Justice Sereno, are all allergic to any mention of the Constitution and our nationality law. They are all reasoning away from them.

As a result, Chief Justice Sereno is committing all the fallacies and heresies to promote the interest of Senator Poe.

This has so alarmed many concerned citizens that they have raised the issue of Sereno’s fitness to sit as SC chief justice or even as a member of the high court, because she allegedly failed the psychological exam for SC candidates at the time of her appointment by President BS Aquino.

Gagging on the word Constitution     

In words that apply equally to our Supreme Court, US Justice Felix Frankfurter wrote about the quality of the men (or women) selected for membership in the high court. He wrote: “many a lawyer however highminded or learned, is fully unsuited for appointment to the Supreme Court…It is because the Supreme Court wields the power that it wields, that appointment to the court is a matter of general concern and not merely a question for the profession. In good truth, the Supreme Court is the Constitution. Therefore, the most relevant things about the appointee are his breadth of vision, his imagination , his capacity for disinterested judgments, his power to discover and to suppress his prejudices…”

In good truth, the Supreme Court is the Constitution. What a breathtaking thought!
Many of us, including justices themselves, will probably shrink from such a sweeping declaration.

But it is clear and it is understood by all, including ordinary citizens of this country, that the Supreme Court is the bulwark of the Constitution , and the justices are our people’s tribunes to ensure that the Constitution is upheld, by even the powers that be.

Justice Sereno, I fear, has betrayed her duty to defend the Constitution by her complicity in the plot to fraudulently proclaim Grace Poe as a natural-born citizen and a qualified candidate for president.

This is manifest in the way Chief Justice Sereno has avoided mentioning the Constitution in her arguments for Grace Poe. Nowhere in the oral arguments in the high court has she mentioned the Constitution.

This is logical because the plot she has enlisted in is designed to pervert the Constitution.
Justice Sereno could gag on the word “Constitution.”

yenmakabenta@yahoo.com

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53 Comments

  1. The conundrum here is that the justices cannot agree on whether a “foundling” can be classified as “alien” or “stateless.” When it is neither of the two is the factual case, the safer presumption is to accept foundlings as “naturalized.” However, being naturalized means either you have a previous citizenship or you have to choose citizenship upon age of majority, both don’t apply to an abandoned baby, because citizenship is ascribed upon birth. So it is really interesting how the magistrates will rule on this given the silence of the constitution on foundlings.

  2. In the case of Estrada’s removal from Malacanang, there was a clear violation of the constitution because Erap did not resign. But the Supreme Court was able to come up with a novel concept of “constructive resignation” which became the basis for ruling that Erap’s removal is not unconstitutional and therefore upholding the legitimacy of GMA’s assumption of the presidency. This means the SC is capable of skirting the letter of the constitution, as history has proven. So it is not impossible for the magistrates to concoct a compromise interpretation that would qualify Grace Poe.

  3. PNoy prostituted every branches of our government. This is the darkest era of our country! We need to be vigilant and pro active in addressing the cancer of our society. Enough of the ruling class controlling our government. Over and over, these elite class have been betraying us. We have so many professionals both from the middle class down to the lower classes who are brilliant and good-hearted people. We must seize the political power come election. Duterte or Miriam, these are not from the elite class!

  4. “Solum” sounds Latin. It is definitely Latin. It is an adjective neuter for “alone”. Solus(masculine), sola (feminine), and solum (neuter). It definitely does not mean “soil”. Adjectives in Latin conform to their noun in gender and case.

  5. HJus soli. Wikipedia surprised me with a “latin” word “solum”. “Humus” is the latin word for soil. So I tried researching “humus versus solum”. There was a lengthy discussion about humus as soil, but “solum” was not even mentioned. So I am fairly certain that somebody made up “solum”. It surely sounds latin, but it does not fit the usual pairing of jus sanguinis and jus solis. It is extremely tempting to equate soil with “soli”; that probably explains why jus solis has become jus soli. “Sol” is Latin for “sun” which can easily be imagined when the sun never set on the British Empire. “Right of the sun” was extended to the whole British Empire. The same goes with the United States of America where tourists make “anchor babies”. The sun sets in the West Philippine Sea after some 12 hours or so. So “jus sanguinis” (right of blood) is the Philippine way to go about extending automatic constitutional citizenship. Foundlings per se deal with jus solis. CJ Sereno is way off the mark, and wasted everybody’s time. The same can be said about Homobono Adaza who looks down on non-lawyers; he is not only way off, but he has not even kept up with continuing legal education for which he lost his license.

    If a person is well grounded or truthful about himself, he has humility (from humus). Who was it who wrote “Humility is truth, and truth humility”? St. Vincent de Paul wrote “Humility is nothing but truth, and pride is nothing but lying.”

  6. The Consitution as, quoted:
    “Section 1. the following are citizens of the Philippines:
    (2) Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines;”
    is quite clear.
    Can we say that foundlings in the Philippines (left in the doorsteps of churces and other homes and institutions) are not Filipino citizens?
    Maybe, we need to prove also that the stray cats and dogs that we find in the streets are also not Filipinos. Otherwise, we should consider them all as “aliens” galing sa “outer space” o “hulog nang langit” o “galing sa Diyos” at dapat i-deport lahat! Hahaha! We are all ridiculous if we think this way.

    • We need to prove nothing about stray cats and stray dogs for they do not run for presidency – so they can all be eaten! harharhar!

  7. Manny of the comments here are so certain on the so called perversion of the law …suggest you take a look as well at the piece of Atty Homobono Adaza.

  8. Chemical brothers on

    Remember that her opinion is only one vote. The majority of its members will be the turning point of the event come the final pronouncement on Poe’s case. She will never win as the essential requirement of the law is not present in her case.

  9. I just can’t believe a chief justice does not know the difference between foundling and natural born citizen. Sereno i think needs to see a psychiatrist.

  10. This CJ of the SC Lourdes Sereno truly betrays the Constitution w/c she ought to defend. What a shame! Same w/ her boss -Pnoy hilig sa compromise.

  11. she was the one who approved the TRO with reasons of her own( see lists of reasons for TRO). Now she is creating her own laws seems like. No wonder us mere citizens always the receiver of bias judges and justices

  12. Grace Poe Llamanzares is a naturalized Filipino Citizen because she followed the citizenship of her adoptive parents Fernando Poe Jr. & Susan Roces.
    She is not a natural born Filipino citizen because our Republic adhere’s to the principle of Jus Sanguinis

  13. What has PNoy wrought in appointing M. L. Sereno as Chief Justice! Surely, the country deserves someone better than this lightweight. The third hearing showed that in terms of intellect, experience and knowledge, Chief Justice M. L. Sereno is far less intelligent, far less experienced and far less knowledgeable.than most of the other Supreme Court justices, such as Associate Justices Carpio and Brion. Too bad that neither one of these two became Chief Justice.

    It is obvious that the long, boring, tedious and inappropriate performance of CJ Sereno has been designed to convince her colleagues to join her crusade to confer natural born status to Mrs. G. Poe Llamazares, regardless of whether the Constitution is violated in the process or not. Thankfully, based on their comments and questions, the other justices, except for Associate Justice Perez who has tipped his hand and can now be placed in Llamanzares’ camp, seem determined to stay on the high road and stick to the text of the Constitution.

  14. The problem with our society today is that only those of the one percent is listened to, and the game changer is money, there is none of the so-called principle in existence among men and women who can be trusted with power anymore, than for these people to sell the country’s dignity to those with deep pockets.

  15. The arguments of CJ Sereno (given she is worth of the title) during the oral arguments is not even worth reading or reviewed by students of the law or by anyone. Those were senseless, desperate statements shameful to the SC as an institution.

  16. How much did CJ Sereno and Leonen received from this
    government, notorious for bribery, just to get the result they need for their personal motives.

  17. If Sereno failed the psycho exams and got to be CJ, it’s ok with Pnoy who has taken anti psychotic medication in the past and hidden by his campaign handlers to win the elections. Diyos ko po parehong buang, ano ba yan!

  18. Sereno is just being malleable to pressure from business interests who are backing Llamanzares. Let me be blunt: I can only think of monetary considerations given that she is reasonably secure in her Chief Justice position for years to come unless she commits an impeachable offence which can lead to her ouster. No self-respecting justice would willfully, openly and blatantly distort what is a clear Constitutional provision on citizenship as she is doing unless there was a very compelling incentive to do so. She does not have to suck up to Aquino who incredibly appointed her, nor does she have to play ball with any of the candidates to earn any favors. Short of an upheaval which would result in the trashing of the Constitution Sereno has job security, however undeservedly that would be.

  19. I am also appalled by the argument of justice sereno.it is very clearly paving the way for grace Poe’s candidacy.but I am sure the CJ will fail.

  20. Leodegardo Pruna on

    Justice Sereno doesn’t deserve the honorable position of Chief Justice because she herself exhibits not only partiality and bias but also succumbed to whoever has coached her under the shadow of money. While she seems to be religious, her religiosity is under question and fire. This further supports the perception that Poe is P-Noy’s candidate for the presidency, not MAR. For P-Noy and Sereno are coming from the same school, a school covering whatever is in their coconut. May God deliver the Philippines from the evils confronting it. God bless the Philippines.

  21. Sir,
    with due respect, if i may,i’m inclined to make a parallelism.
    Stockholm syndrome though it is a little bit appropriate of committing like that for let say… strategic blunder.
    The question is, who infected her?
    vividly right our dear chief supreme court justice looks like a ventriloquist.
    Who knows she maybe playing like a devil’s advocate?
    I may vote for grace poe with reservation because she may end up like a controlled barbie doll of the oligarchs in fact she is a lit bit better than the outgoing prisidint but on the other hand, she was not owned yet by political dynasties.
    Be that as it may, as what the enlighthened community opined, Sen. Grace Poe is not qualified by following in letter and spirit our Constitution.

    God Bless the Philippines!

  22. I believe…the appointment of CJ should be the job by an independent body (composed of retired CJ’s) not the President….This is to avoid “utang na loob” from President and the appoinment of incompetent justices….

  23. The fact that she did not pass the psychological exam, CJSereno should be impeached !
    BSAquino has degraded our Justice system by appointing Justices that are his friends and bypassing the integral process that all Chief Justices must follow. OMG!

  24. Pierre Raspeguy on

    ” Justice Sereno, I fear, has betrayed her duty to defend the Constitution by her complicity in the plot to fraudulently proclaim Grace Poe as a natural-born citizen and a qualified candidate for president.” — Sad but apparently very true …… for 30 pieces of silver.

  25. This is the problem of Filipino ” THE UTANG NA LOOB ” tradition to appointing power not to mention ” PAKIKISAMA SA KATRABAHO ” at isama pa ang ” PERALUSOT OR PADULAS ” in all government offices.
    I hope that our new Congress will pass a bill that the president will appoint the justices of the SC but the SC justices will elect by themselves the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. That the president will appoint the AFP-PNP Generals but the Generals will elect their CAFP and CPNP. That the president will appoint the people of DOJ based equally on party affiliation except the SDOJ. That the NBI is separated from the DOJ and the DNBI has a FIX six year term.
    If the president veto the bills, like the SSS pension, Congress will turn down the veto to make it into law.
    SANA NAMAN MAGKAROON NG TWO BALLS LAHAT NG MGA SENADORES AT MGA REPRESENTANTE NG BAYAN.

  26. For ignorance of the law and the Constitution being the highest magistrate of the land, Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno DESERVES TO BE IMPEACHED. How come Sereno was appointed as SC chief justice when she cannot distinguish the difference between a FOUNDLING and a NATURAL-BORN FILIPINO CITIZEN? Quo vadis, Pilipinas?

  27. Jose A. Oliveros on

    CJ Sereno has interpreted jus sangunis literally, that is, to be considered that one is a natural-born Filipino citizen, he or she must show that his or her parents are of pure Filipino blood. But if a Russian father, married to a Thai mother have themselves naturalized as Filipinos and after their naturalization beget a child, that child is a natural-born Filipino citizen because his/her father and mother are already Filipino citizens by naturalization when he/she was born, although the blood running in his/her veins are those of her Russian father and his/her Thai mother.

    • But then, Grace Poe was not ‘begotten’ by either parents; she was adopted! so the blood in her veins are unquestionably not ‘naturalized’ as well. wheeee!

  28. “… the Supreme Court is the Constitution” is more popularly understood as “the Constitution is what the Supreme Court says it is”… situate this “good truth” in the context of another popular quote: the legislature make laws; the executive department implements and the judiciary interprets… then there is another truth- whether good or bad- that the judiciary do perform judicial legislation… in the US there is a congressional government (congress more powerful than president); in UK the prime minister premier (has power to dissolve parliament; in the Philippines the supreme court is supreme (presides over impeachment and rules on qualifications or presidents and members of congress)… but haven’t we thrown out of office a sitting chief justice thru the combined power of congress, the president, the media and the general public?

  29. “Justice Sereno, I fear, has betrayed her duty to defend the Constitution by her complicity in the plot to fraudulently proclaim Grace Poe as a natural-born citizen and a qualified candidate for president.:” Precisely.

  30. It is really disheartening since I have always held close to my heart this quote from Chief Justice Sereno: “I don’t serve the President, I serve the Constitution.”

    • I remember reading that in the PDI, and I thought that was admirable. But as it turned out they are just “Words, empty words”. Sad, isn’t it? When she was appointed, some columnists, like Mr. R. Tiglao, then writing for the PDI, criticized her appointment. I commented then that since PNoy had the power of appointment, there was really nothing much that concerned citizens could do, and that we should just hope for the best. I thought that her deficiencies (for example:she likes to talk to God, and that bothered me because I believe that the judiciary should be secular) will be minimized and corrected as time passes on. But today I stand corrected. We need to be vigilant, as she is relatively young and can really do damage to the Court or the Constitution.

    • I remember that comment from CJ Sereno as well.What has happened between her oath to serve the constitution and her perverted views on how the constitution should be judicially amended to favor one unqualified presidential aspirant.

  31. Justice Lourdes Sereno the CJ is a LEGAL PROSTITUTE basing on her decisions and legal comments even before she was appointed by PNoy. PNoy likes her so much because both of them are head-cases. Surely, the rest of the SC justices are does not have her mental imbalance. God save the Philippines if she is allowed to decide on her own.

  32. sereno should be rooted out from the supreme court stat before any incident that’s dissatrous tothe PHIL./ FIL. people happens again !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Meantine , keepyour fingers crossed

  33. Raymond Toledo on

    Culpable violation of the constitution is an impeachable offense. If SC CJ Sereno and SC Justice Leonen push for letting Poe run for president even if doing so violates the constitution — then aren’t they culpably violating the constitution and, therefore, ought to be impeached as SC justices? Nagtatanong lang poe.

    • Agree to that Raymund Taledo! At the beginning of CJ Sereno’s pronouncements like ‘I serve the constitution, not the president,’ I said, kudos to this woman CJ. I have not followed her closely ’till now on Poe’s disqualification cases. I knew ‘jus sanguines, jus soli’ since high school and was amazed/bothered on the ‘stand’ of CJ re Poe’s DQ cases.
      I also respect SC Justice Leonen and found him consistent on issues brought to the SC ’till now on Poe’s DQ; let Poe run and let the people decide, despite the fact that there are cases to disqualify Poe on question of citizenship and residency.
      Kung ganito rin lang pala, why is there a set of qualifications for candidates to adhere?

  34. Rodan Guerrero on

    Why is the least qualified SC Justice allowed to be the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court? Has our Highest Judicial Court in the Philippines turned into a Monkey Court? Lunatics reign in two of our 3 branches of government, thus putting this country into its most shameless state. Sereno and Leonen are both displaying their IGNORANCE AND STUPIDITY OF THE LAWS. What should we expect a STUPID President would appoint? Chances are, Millions of money are at stake, it might even reach a hundred million as the pot money offered by Grace Poe to buy her passport to the Presidency. SERENO and LEONEN, HOW MUCH DID GRACE POE BRIBED YOU?

  35. Raymond Toledo on

    Essentially, what SC Chief Justice Sereno and SC Justice Leonen are saying is this: Even if COMELEC is correct in disqualifying Grace Poe as presidential candidate based on our Constitution and election laws — we should not apply our Constitution and laws on Grace Poe because kawawa naman ang mga foundlings like her if we do so. No one will want to adopt them (who wants to adopt a baby who is disqualified from running for president)?
    What unbelievable and indescribable idiocy and insanity is this — being perpetuated by no less than SC Justices Sereno and Leonen?
    Instead of saying “Shut up and get out of the courtroom, you clowns and idiots!” — SC Justice Carpio kept his cool and temper and had a very simple and short response for SC CJ Sereno and SC Justice Leonen: “The solution (to Sereno’s and Leonen’s concerns re foundlings) lies in Congress (not in the Judiciary).”
    How hard is it to understand Carpio’s point?
    How difficult is it to understand that if you don’t like the law, then the very simple (and only) solution is to amend or scrap it VIA CONGRESSIONAL LEGISLATION?
    And perhaps even a below-average IQ can understand that THE JOB OF THE JUDICIARY IS NOT TO LEGISLATE. Trabaho poe ng CONGRESS / LEGISLATIVE BRANCH ANG LEGISLATION (kaya nga “legislative” branch ang tawag dito. Gets nyo poe?)
    THE JOB OF THE JUDICIARY IS TO UPHOLD AND CORRECTLY INTERPRET THE LAW — NOT CHANGE OR BREAK THE LAW.