IT is pure contempt of the Constitution and the law and those who want to live by the Constitution and the law for President B. S. Aquino 3rd, his financial cronies and foreign “advisers” to insist that Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares should be considered a possible candidate for president in 2016, regardless of what the Constitution says. It is an open invitation to trouble, big trouble, including a possible uprising against Aquino and the oligarchy.
I have written screeds on this subject, and did not wish to inflict one more word on my readers about it, until PNoy met with Poe and Sen. Francis Escudero to talk about it. He reportedly suggested that Poe and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the presumptive Liberal Party presidential candidate, get together to agree on a common administration candidate.
I am no supporter of Mar Roxas, but the fellow has already taken so much garbage from PNoy, and he doesn’t deserve any more. I would understand it if someone with utterly irreproachable credentials had risen from within the ranks of the ruling Liberal Party to challenge the party commitment to Mar Roxas, but Poe? Who and what exactly is she? She is a party outsider, and is not even constitutionally qualified to be in the Senate, much less daydream of the presidency.
I have said, and I will say it again, and again, and again, that Grace Poe is not qualified under the 1987 Constitution to run for President, Vice President, or even for senator or congressman. She is not a natural-born Filipino, and for PNoy to insist that she could run for president despite this fatal disqualification is like Caligula making a consul of his horse Incitatus, or some unschooled duck farmer entering his duck in a cockfight (“pintakasi”).
The Constitution is as clear as the clearest sunlight on this issue, and it needs no interpretation of any kind from anybody. But what violates one’s basic decency and dignity is that PNoy, his cronies and his foreign puppeteers seem to believe they could turn this purely constitutional issue into a “popularity contest” and let some crooked survey and an ignorant and deranged mob decide to spare Grace Poe from the rigors of following the Constitution and the law.
To quote the Constitution for the nth time, Section 2 of Article VII provides: “No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least forty years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding such election.” Sec. 3, same Article, says the Vice President “shall have the same qualifications and term of office and be elected with and in the same manner as the President.”
Similarly, Sec. 3 of Article VI provides that “no person shall be a Senator unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, and, on the day of the election, is at least thirty-five years of age, able to read and write, a registered voter, and a resident of the Philippines for not less than two years immediately preceding the day of the election.” Likewise, no person may be a member of the House of Representatives unless he is a natural-born citizen, at least twenty-five years of age and a resident of their district for at least one year immediately preceding the election.
Therefore, whether one is running for president, vice president, senator or congressman, it is not enough to be a citizen; one must be a “natural-born citizen.” What does “natural-born citizen” mean? The Constitution itself, not a mere Webster, Oxford or Cambridge dictionary, supplies the meaning. Sec. 2 of Article IV says: “Natural-born citizens are those citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship.” Those born before January 17, 1973 of alien fathers and Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority, are “deemed to be natural-born citizens.”
So for the nth time, I say Grace Poe is not a natural-born Filipino. She knows this, or she ought to be the first one to know. She was born of unknown parents, abandoned inside the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral in Iloilo City, where she was found by a woman churchgoer on Sept 3, 1968. She was thus stateless from birth. She was adopted by the actor Fernando Poe Jr. and his actress wife Susan Roces, who were married on Dec. 25, 1968. She took the citizenship of the Poes. This entailed performing a legal act, which would have been completely unnecessary if she were natural born. This constitutes the first living and subsisting proof that she is not a natural born Filipino.
Later in life, she renounced her Philippine citizenship “absolutely and entirely” to become a citizen of the United States. This was long before the Philippine dual citizenship law took effect in 2003. She could not claim to have opted for dual citizen then, even assuming dual citizenship was allowed under US law. In the meantime, she married an American citizen, gave birth to three American children, and raised an American family in Virginia.
In 2005, after her adoptive father FPJ lost his fight for the Philippine presidency in 2004 and died a few months later, she came home, using her US passport as an American citizen. She traveled several times from the Philippines to the US and back, using the same passport until Dec. 27, 2009. She remained an American citizen all throughout.
In 2010, PNoy appointed her chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board. Then, as now, only a Filipino citizen was eligible for this position. But Grace Poe was still an American citizen when she was appointed. She even acquired a new US passport from the Washington Passport Agency in 2011. According to the Federal Register, the daily journal of the US government, she renounced her US citizenship during the second quarter of 2012, ending June 30. It was only upon the US official acceptance of this renunciation that she lost her US citizenship. She got a Philippine passport only in 2014.
Therefore her appointment as MTRCB chair was void and illegal ab initio. If she had executed any statement saying she was already a Filipino citizen when she took her oath of office, then she committed perjury, and falsified the relevant official documents. These are not minor offenses. If Aquino had appointed her to the MTRCB, knowing fully well that she was still an American citizen, then he himself committed an impeachable offense. But this was not the only offense of the parties. Since she received an official salary and other emoluments for her illegal appointment, she and the appointing power violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
A year later, after renouncing her US citizenship, Grace Poe ran for the Senate and “won” in the infamous “60-30-10” across-the-board arrangement in favor of PNoy’s senatorial candidates. This required a natural-born Filipino citizenship and a two-year residence in the country, as such citizen, immediately preceding the election. Grace Poe lacked both.
She clearly perjured herself and falsified her certificate of candidacy by stating under oath that she was a natural-born Filipino, and that she had been living in the country, as a natural-born citizen, for not less than two years immediately preceding the election. Both are serious offenses, the second more serious than the first, with a long prescriptive period.
Poe should have been instantly disqualified from running, or from taking office, if her offense had been seasonably discovered. But it is only now—two years later—- that the facts have surfaced. Her political life has been one great lie, but her supporters are trying to invoke her so-called high “popularity ratings” to intimidate people from raising questions about her fitness to remain in the Senate and to dream about the presidency or vice presidency in 2016.
Their game plan appears to be as follows:
Let Poe file her certificate of candidacy despite her not being a natural-born Filipino and her lack of 10-year residence immediately before the election—she started residing in the Philippines as a Filipino citizen only in 2012, or a mere four years after she had renounced her US citizenship;
Flood the media and all political space with paid propaganda drivel showing her alleged “popularity” with the masses;
Let those questioning the constitutionality of her candidacy file for her disqualification before the Comelec, and let the Comelec sit on any such petition or throw it out instantly;
Should anyone raise the issue before the Supreme Court, try to pay off the justices so that they would throw out the petition or sit on it until Smartmatic proclaims Poe’s victory and she takes her oath as “president-elect.” Then turn the constitutional issue into a political one, with Poe and her supporters invoking the bogus principle of “vox populi, vox Dei.”
It is a perverted way of running a democracy. But PNoy, his business cronies and foreign advisers seem to believe they could get away with it and have their way.
I don’t believe we should allow them to. Grace Poe should be removed from the Senate, where she occupies a seat that belongs to a natural-born Filipino, and prevented from tarnishing the race for presidency.
All those who are trying to use Grace Poe to exploit the ignorance of the ignorant and the gullibility of the rest should be dealt with more severely. They should be exposed by name, and prosecuted in the appropriate forum at the appropriate time, as the people’s real enemies. We, the people, should be prepared to confront Aquino and his cabal should they decide to disrespect and trample upon our Constitution and our laws and the sensibilities of those who want to live by our Constitution and our laws.