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.”