So very sorry, Ms. Susan Roces

36

I may have committed an indiscretion when I wrote recently that if we need to hold a 2016 presidential election despite the extremely deranged political situation, and somebody named Poe must run for president in that election, we should blithely ignore the ambitious but constitutionally disqualified Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares, and consider instead the more stately actress Susan Roces Poe, widow of the late Fernando Poe Jr., who was widely perceived to have been duped in the 2004 presidential election, and surrogate mother to the highly problematical Grace.

I hope Susan Roces Poe will accept my sincerest apologies.

Unlike Grace, whose constitutional disability has long been exposed, Susan Roces Poe has all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications for the highest office. She is a natural-born Filipino, which Grace is not; she is more than 40 years of age, a registered voter, able to read and write, and a resident of the country all her life—the Constitution requires a mere ten years residence immediately preceding the election.

Was I being flippant or facetious? By no means. I wanted to save Grace from her own folly, save our politics (such as it is) from Grace, and propose the “right Poe” to compete for the job which eleven years ago might have gone to FPJ, had the election been a little less crooked. Susan Roces Poe bore the tragedy and trauma of that campaign in silence, but she could not help but raise her voice upon her husband’s death a few months after his unbelievable “defeat.”


“You stole the presidency not once but twice,” she thundered at the victor, who, to her credit, bore that volcanic eruption with some poise. Had FPJ’s widow ended in Malacañang, she might have done so much better than Ninoy’s widow, or Ninoy’s and Cory’s orphaned son; but she showed no interest whatsoever in it. She still seems not interested in it.

But in her first public statement on Grace’s beleaguered status, Susan showed the Bard wasn’t kidding when he wrote, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” She literally flew off the handle when she talked of Rizalito David’s citizen’s suit before the Senate Electoral Tribunal and the Commission on Elections seeking to unseat Sen. Grace for not being a natural-born Filipino citizen, which is an absolute requirement for anyone running for senator, congressman, president or vice president.

As reported in the Times, Susan excoriated Grace’s unnamed and unidentified critics, apart from petitioner David, for questioning her eligibility to sit in the Senate. “Never ko siyang tinawag na adopted. Never ko iyang tinawag na ampon. Lalong never, never ko siyang tinawag na pulot! (I never called her adopted. I never called her a ward. Most of all, I never called her a foundling.) How dare they use that word!”

The lady is not the “Queen of Philippine movies” for nothing; she can deliver her lines half asleep, even without a written script. Whether her show of anger was real or simulated, she has turned the otherwise dry and boring discussion of a severe constitutional issue into sensational theatre, by resorting to the most familiar form of argumentum ad misericordiam and argumentum ad hominem.

Instead of showing that Grace Poe Llamanzaresis indeed, or at least used to be, a “natural-born Filipino” as claimed, the angry discourse changed the thrust of the conversation into whether or not Grace’s critics, (not mere “detractors,” as the news report wrongly puts it), have any right to call her “adopted,” “ward,” or “foundling.” The approach is skillful but rather low, and threatens to blind those who are easily moved to tears by the most unintelligent sad story.

There has been no name-calling
But, truth to tell, none of the terms complained of is pejorative. And nobody we know, not even petitioner David, has ever referred to Grace in a manner that is derogatory or offensive. Many have accused her of lying under oath, and the official documents prove it; but nobody has ever called her names in the manner Susan Roces says they have. There has been no name-calling at her expense. There is obviously a serious misunderstanding about the meaning of some of the words used.

This could happen even in the best of times and circumstances. In Ramon Magsaysay’s time, there was a brief brouhaha over Sen. Claro M. Recto’s use of the word “motley” to describe RM’s audience. Malacañang took offense and slammed Recto for allegedly suggesting that Magsaysay had spoken to a very small crowd. Recto had to explain that the word “motley” did not mean small, but simply diverse. The same situation appears to have arisen in relation to the word “foundling.” Susan Roces Poe appears to resent the use of the word, even though there is nothing derogatory about it.

Even Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia online, has something to say on this. Its entry on Grace carries the following line: “Born in Iloilo but abandoned by her biological mother at birth, she was later adopted by Philippine National Artist Fernando Poe Jr. and his wife Susan Roces.” The term “foundling” is not used, but that’s what it means. It is a legal term.

Black’s Law Dictionary defines “foundling” as “a deserted or abandoned infant; a child found without a parent or guardian, its relatives being unknown.” In fact, some lawyers quote the right of “foundlings” in the 1961 United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness to support their view that Grace is a natural-born Filipino.

Under Article 2 of this Convention “a foundling found in the territory of a Contracting State shall, in the absence of proof to the contrary, be considered to have been born within that territory of parents possessing the nationality of that State.” A boon for foundlings, but not necessarily for Grace. Why? Because this Convention entered into force in 1975, seven years after Grace was born, and until now the Philippines has not acceded to it, contrary to earlier reports that it had. As of 2014, only 63 countries have acceded to the Convention, and the Philippines is not one of them. So it is of no use to Grace.

But what is ultimately harmful to Mrs. Llamanzares is not what other people have said or are saying about her, but rather that what she and her promoters have said and are saying about herself are not borne out by the facts. She and her surrogate mother have openly admitted that her natural parents were unknown; we heard her latest admission on this when she traveled to Jaro, Iloilo in search of any blood relatives. Her surrogate mother said something about it when she told the press that the child’s umbilical cord was still intact when she was found inside the church in Jaro, Iloilo on Sept. 3, 1968.

She said under oath she was born to Mrs. Poe
But in her application for “reacquisition of Philippine citizenship” under Republic Act 9225, popularly known as the Dual Citizenship Law of 2003, Grace Poe Llamanzares said under oath that she was a natural-born Filipino citizen born in Iloilo City on Sept. 3, 1968 to Ronald Allan Kelley Poe, a Filipino citizen, and to Jesusa Sonora Poe, a Filipino citizen.

Presumably, she made the same declaration or it was made for her by a guardian when she first applied for a Philippine passport to allow her to travel and study in the United States. Her official website on the Internet makes the same claim that she is the daughter of the Poe couple, without any reference to her adoption.

The central and core issue here is the Constitution. We cannot trifle with it. Under the Constitution, no person may be elected senator, congressman, president or vice president unless he is, first of all, a natural-born Filipino citizen; and a natural-born citizen is a Filipino from birth who does not have to perform any act to acquire or perfect his citizenship.

The only relevant question here therefore is whether or not the suit against Grace has any constitutional merit, rather than who are behind the citizen-petitioner David. Thus, instead of asking the LP or UNA whether they had provided David the P50,000 filing fee, which he did not have when he first appeared at the SET, they should rather ask the Roxas and Binay camps whether or not they believe Grace Poe Llamanzares is a natural-born Filipino.

The law is clear, and the facts cannot be falsified. Grace was born of unknown parents in 1968 and was therefore stateless. She initially became a Filipino citizen after making a false claim, or allowing somebody else to make a false claim on her behalf, that she is the natural daughter of Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces.

The couple was married on Dec. 25, 1968, three months after Grace’s birth on Sept. 3, 1968. There is no record of Mrs. Susan Roces Poe giving premature birth to a child three months before her marriage.

The serious material misrepresentation gave the young Grace Poe a natural-born Philippine citizenship, which however was void ab initio because based on a false statement. This spurious Philippine citizenship was totally extinguished in 2001 when she became a citizen of the United States. In 2006, she applied for reacquisition of her Philippine citizenship under RA 9225. This law allows “former natural-born Filipino citizens” who had become citizens of a foreign country after the law took effect in 2003 to reacquire their Filipino citizenship by taking a prescribed oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines.

Again, by misrepresenting herself as the natural daughter of the Poe couple, which the government failed to verify with concrete evidence, she was able to “reacquire” a spurious Philippine citizenship. Spurious, because as I have pointed out over and over again, under RA 9225 only former natural-born Filipino citizens who had lost their Philippine citizenship to become a foreign national after 2003 may avail themselves of this privilege. Grace became a US citizen in 2001 rather than after 2003.

I find Grace intellectually more attractive than many of her colleagues, and were it not for this serious constitutional question, I might have no difficulty extending to her the same support I had extended to FPJ in 2004. But the Constitution is sacred, and no one who aspires to be President should be allowed to make light of it. Citizenship is so intimately intertwined with sovereignty that even if Mrs. Llamanzares’s citizenship were not in question, the nation could still not rest easy, knowing that if she ran and won, she would be the first Filipino president to gift our nation with a pure-American first family.

fstatad@gmail.com

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36 Comments

  1. Mr. Tatad, President Obama is a Kenyan by our laws. Grace is a natural-born Filipino because her parents is. What the fuss about her citizenship is the fact that she will easily win the presidency. I believe Grace father is FPJ from another woman. Her nose is like that of FPJ and her mother is surely a mestiza.

  2. if one enters philippine politics, he should have the stomach for all the dirt that will be thrown to him. di bagay ang pikon.

  3. The Supreme Court dare not touch Smartmatic like they dare not touch EDCA or the VFA because they know the power behind these things. That last decision by the SC against Smartmatic was only a token move. So if nothing changes I guess we have to resign ourselves to the fact that Grace Poe will be the next president because that is what the gods want. However, the gods cannot stop the economic tsunami that is coming with mathematical certainty, the perfect storm that will inundate the world including the likes of Grace Poe and that American First Family she brings with her into perdition, which is the fate that a Manchurian candidate like her fully deserves.

  4. actually anybody who fulfills the constitutional requirement for president and vice president can run and be elected.
    so what’s the fuss?
    but is the constituional requirement enough to make one really qualified to become the president or vice-president of the republic?
    did you write this article while scratching your feet under the table again?
    i’m sure you remember that time when you were caught on camera.
    please don’t get caught twice with this.

    • Corabel Y Diel on

      Julio Madiaga!
      Of course!. The constitution defines who is and who is not a Filipino citizen, ditto with ALL CONSTITUTION of all counties today.

  5. Whatever this columnist will say, there is now a high probability that Grace Poe will be the next president as the bandwagon is already starting to churn. All these legal questions about citizenship and residency will be settled after the election since all the venue where these suits are lodged will just sit on it so as to avoid being accused as spoilers or partisans. Hence, after the election it will be not be difficult and controversial to render a decision since if Poe wins, they will just enjoined the dictum ” Vox Populei Vox Dei” or the voice of the people is the voice of God. And if Poe loses, they will just dismiss it as moot and academic. And the general public should not be surprised if in this bandwagon, Bongbong Marcos Jr will suddenly emerge as the Vice President tandem of Grace Poe as the rumor of Grace Poe being the illegitimate daughter of the late Pres Marcos refuses to die down. And furthermore, their election will send a strong signal to the cursed MADONNA aquino presidencies that enough is enough as the general public is already feed up with the incompetence and foolishness of these mentioned presidencies….

  6. I agree with you Kit Tatad that if Grace Poe wins, we would be the butt in history of having an American as President of the Republic.

    • Maybe that is not a bad thing. The PH does not have one politician qualified to run the country, maybe we need an American to lead us to the prosperity and greatness that all Filipinos deserve.

    • I wouldn’t care what country they were from if they weren’t easy to corrupt.
      Grace Poe gave the SAF 44 report to Ombudsman Morales a known Aquino lapdog instead of to the senate for further discussion.
      Now it will take a vote by the Aquino Congress to reopen and that will never happen as long as the Liberal Party control it.

      Grace Poe protected President Aquino by giving the report to the Ombudsman. Poe is riding the Aquino express and trying to hide it.

  7. Mr Tatad,

    Thank you for continuously writing, informing, and educating the people of the Philippines about the its precious Constitution. And to show that no one can trample it and use it for their own selfish ambition.

    I hope that the court will find Ms Poe’s senate win invalid.

  8. Mr kit, you have had your days. I am sorry but you are not even a lawyer. You write as though your understanding of the law is gospel truth. Stop stating an opinion about Grace’ citizenship. Leave that to the courts, the Senate, the COMELEC. Your are grade 1 just like us when it comes to law, much more constitutional law. Chief justice Tem Panganiban is not perfect, neither errorless in law, but he is a respected jurist and constitutionalist, like Katrina Legarda, and they say that Grace is a natural born citizen. Stop being pikon, or pretender, or yabang. Do not use your column for personal glory. If what you write is just your personal opinion, please say so and do not appear like you too is a constitutional expert!

    • And your qualifications for telling anyone what to do ?
      Here’s a tip, I will write whatever i want whenever i want and if you don’t like it too gd bad. Same goes for the other commenters and the author of this article. If you don’t like it cry more.

  9. GRACE, go back to to America your home and live in peace. We don’t need the likes of you here, BALIMBING. We have a lot of opportunist like you here please don’t add to the problem. Go back and be the simpleton clerk, kindy teacher that you were.

  10. Senator Grace Poe seems so arrogant in her attitude towards Mar Roxas’ offer to be his running mate. What if she tops the SWS survey with only 1,200 respondents throughout the country. She is banking on that survey as if she will surely win this coming election. Allow her to run for President so that she can taste an electoral defeat. She is not well experienced to lead this country. What is really her experience?

    • Why would anyone want to join the Mar Roxas team ?
      Mr Incompetent, Every agency he was ever in charge of was a complete failure.

      Mar couldn’t do the job as head of the DOTC, the running trains went down from 73 to just 16.

      Mar couldn’t do the job as head of the DILG, The SAF 44 massacre Mar took a tour and had lunch while the SAF were being killed.

      He did txt General Napenas at 7:12pm
      “Keep calm and keep your head.
      We will not abandon the troops.”
      Of course this was hours after the 44 commando’s were already dead.

      As DILG Chief he is in charge of

      Bureau of Fire Protection, Manila business not in compliance,result 72 dead, no fire doors, metal grills over the windows. Ain’t that Mar’s job to inspect business for safety issues ?

      Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, everyone knows the state of the Jails.

      Philippine National Police, SAF Massacre

      Mar Roxas is the poster boy for incompetence.

  11. Since she has a problem confronting this issues on a legal standpoint, Grace Poe’s tack is convert this legal hurdles into emotional issues by stirring up public opinion in her favor; just watch those infomercials coinciding with FPJ’s birthday. We may see more of them in the days ahead.

  12. Bert O. Romero on

    Your going out of your way to educate us on the meaning of foundling is well taken. It is sincerely hoped your gesture will be more appreciated by people who, without understanding the word and its implications, would ballistically transmogrify themselves into ” oppressed” and motherly avenging angel of tear jerker drama, clearly reminiscent of past movie roles. To the less emotionally inclined, this outburst “ay kumita na sa takilya.”

    Pity this country if once more we elect a president because of necropolitics who is a non-Filipino at that!

  13. Grace Llamanzares should be advised by her lawyers to discontinue her running for president FIRST; she will never win, only the media and fake surveys are lying under oath telling the people grace is very strong and will win the election?no way, she will never win in the actual election comes,second: lets say ,just (kunwari) she won the election,many of her opponents, from the senate,congress.,ordinary citizens,thinking she is not qualified to become a president and lead the 100 million Filipinos,they will run to the supreme court,comelec or in congress to to impeach her, this will be a long process and waste of peoples money,the best thing grace should do now for the sake of the nation she should resign as she was a fake senator of the republic.Let the qualified Filipino candidates run for president and throw her support to her chosen one.Sen.Tatad thanks for well researched, and well clarified column.Mrs Grace Poe Llamanzares you can now return to the United States pursue your political ambition(mission impossible) and petition Susan Roces the good ‘acting’ actress! until now they could not concede the defeat of FPJ as she shouted “Ang Mandaraya, ay kakambal ng Magnanakaw!” maybe you are now referring to Benigno Aquino III alias Pnoy and not to PGMA! Hahahahahaha! Susan.Sumigaw kana ngayon. PIKON!

  14. Kale Alaskador on

    Mr. Tatad,

    You have used your column to continuously state “facts” about Ms. Poe. Now that the case has been filed, please submit all evidences you have to the court and let the court decide. You have said enough and reading the same thins over and over again becomes irritating.

    Please write about something else for a change. FYI I want Poe to suffer the consequences.

    • Leodegardo Pruna on

      Mr. Tatad is free to write what he wants to write. One is free to or not to read the article. We are in a democratic society where FREEDOM OF CHOICE, provided not against the LAW, is lived and practiced. God bless the Philippines.

    • You are not forced to read someone’s column Alaskador, are you? You don’t even have to read Tatad’s column at all if you are irritated by what he writes. Simple isn’t it?

    • Pareng Kale Alaskador, ‘truth hurts’ and ‘you cant handle the truth’ kaya ka so irritated. Solution? Stop reading Senator Tatad’s column because he continuously states the facts (the truth), simple! But trying to stop him in doing his job will only deprive others of the facts (truth). Please keep an open mind, it’s only fair for others to make an informed decision come election time.

  15. Jose A. Oliveros on

    “Hell hath known no fury, etc.” is by Samuel Congreve; not by Shakespeare.
    Under Article 12 [3] of the 1961 UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness the provision of Art. 2 thereof on foundlings, “shall apply only to foundlings found in the territory of a Contracting State after the entry into force of the Convention for that State.” Consequently, if the Philippines were to accede to the Convention this year, its provisions can be invoked only 90 days after the Philippines delivers the instrument of accession, hence, the Convention will not be of any use to Sen. Poe-Llamanzares, as former Sen. Tatad correctly pointed out in his column.
    On the adoption of Sen. Poe-Llamanzares by the FPJ couple, neither the Senator nor her adoptive mother could say when was she adopted and what court issued the decree of adoption.

    • The UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness is an excellent argument to refute what Grace Llamanzares and her legal advisors are saying.

  16. If what Mr. Tatad wrote about Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares in this article are all true …
    it is wise for the Lady Senator to totally get out of politics and just help the Filipino people in her own private way … that is if she is really sincere in helping our countrymen … otherwise , there is a possibility that she might end up being disgraced .

    How about Mr. Llamanzares and their children , are they US Citizens ? … if they are
    and Sen. Grace Poe would decide to run for the Presidency and win …
    we would have an American First Gentleman … he he he he he

    • apolonio reyes on

      ELY, YOUR CORRECT, IF GRACE POE LLAMANSAREZ WILL BE OUR NEXT PRESIDENT, FOR SURE LIKE CORY, SHE WILL BE INVITED TO SPEAK IN THE USA CONGRESS AND WILL BE INTRODUCE BY THE US SPEAKER ” HER EXCELLENCY, A FORMER FILIPINO, A FORMER US CITIZEN AND REACQUIRED HER FILIPINO CITIZEN, NOW PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBKIC OF THE PHILIPPINES AND HER US CITIZEN FIRST GENTLEMAN & CH…. ” . THIS WILL BE FOR GUINESS BOOK ” ONLY IN THE PHILIPPINES “, DI BA BAYAN?

  17. Palagay ko tama si ex senator Kit Tatad in regards with the Philippine Constitutional that any candidate aspiring for president or vice president should be a natural born citizen.

  18. A very brilliant and scholarly column.
    I am not a lawyer and fully understood this column.

    Senator Kit Tatad – I do not know you before
    or when you were a Secretary under Marcos.

    I admire your column because you defended
    and/or sided with the Church teachings.

    How I wish you run as Senator under
    Bongbong Marcos if he runs for President,
    2016 elections.

    Mabuhay Kit – MABUHAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Susan,
    Huwag kang pikon, alam mo naman ang politics dito sa Pinas, Kung gusto ninyo ng tahimik na pamumuhay “get out of politics”.

    Patunayan thru DNA Kung sino ang AMA ni Grace, madali Lang Gawin yan. Alam mo ba yung wait ni Fred Panopyo? May pelikula pa niyan si FPJ “Pitong Gatang”

    “Ito ay Hindi tsismis, napag-uusapan Lang. Ouleule walang labis walang kulang”

    • Para tahimik ang pamumuhay “get out of politics” that is your opinion Resty and i respect it. Pero intindihin naman natin si Susan Roces dahil normal naman sa isang ina na ipagtanggol ang kanyang anak na nasasaktan na. The case has been filed in the court of law against Senator Grace Poe Llamanzares for disqualifications and let us wait for the court to decide.