By Ferdinand G. Patinio
MANILA, Nov. 9 (PNA) — Senator Grace Poe is facing another disqualification case at the Commission on Elections (Comelec), this time filed by former law dean and renowned constitutionalist Amado Valdez.
In the 33-page petition, Valdez asked the poll body to deny due course to Poe’s Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) to run for president in the May 2016 polls.
The petitioner also questioned the lawmaker’s qualifications to run for the position as she failed to meet the requirements of being a natural-born Filipino citizen and the 10-year residency requirement.
“This Petition argues that respondent failed to comply with the citizenship and residency requirements under Article VII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines,” he explained.
He added, “Premises considered, it is most respectfully prayed that the Certificate of Candidacy of respondent, Mary Grace Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, be cancelled and denied due course and that she be declared disqualified to file COC for any other elective public office requiring as qualification the status of a natural-born Filipino citizen.”
The 1987 Constitution provides that “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 40 years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years immediately preceding such election”.
Valdez noted that in the event Poe can prove that she is a natural-born citizen despite being a foundling, there is still no denying that she became a citizen of the United States of America (USA) while renouncing her allegiance and fidelity to the Republic of the Philippines in October 2001.
He added that Poe’s re-acquisition of her Philippine citizenship in July 2006 under the Republic No. 9225 or the Dual Citizenship Act of 2003 did not allow her to regain her natural-born status.
“The fact that respondent has to perform an overt act to re-acquire her citizenship by filing a Petition for Re-Acquisition of Philippine citizenship under RA9225 does not qualify her as natural-born citizen in conformity with the provisions of Article IV, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution,” Valdez said.
Under Article IV, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution, natural-born citizens are those who are Citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship shall be deemed natural-born citizens.
“In the language of RA 9225, respondent was deemed as having re-acquired Philippine citizenship but not natural-born citizenship,” said Valdez.
On the issue on her Philippine residency, the petitioner is convinced that she did not meet the 10-year period based on all three dates being pointed as the possible start of the count of her residence in the country.
Valdez cited the dates, July 7, 2006, when she took her oath as Filipino citizen; November 2006, as she claimed in her COC to run for senator in the May 2013 elections; and October 20, 2010, when she renounced her American citizenship are able to disprove her failure in meeting the residency requirement.
“In sum, her residency amounts to four years, six months and 15 days on the day of the election on May 2016, short of the 10 years required by the 1987 Constitution. Nonetheless, counting the years from any of the above dates, respondent will still come short of the 10-year requirement,” he said.
There are three other petitions for disqualification against Poe before the poll body that were filed by Atty. Estrella Elamparo, former Sen. Francisco Tatad, and petition for the cancellation of her COC filed by De La Salle University (DLSU) Professor Antonio Contreras.
Incidentally, the hearing on the case filed by Elamparo will be held on Tuesday under the Second Division which is chaired by Commissioner Al Parreno with Commissioners Arthur Lim and Sheriff Abas as members. (PNA)