MANILA, Nov. 18 (PNA) — An election lawyer has said that the disqualification cases filed against Senator Grace Poe involving her citizenship should be dismissed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in light of the decision of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) declaring the lawmaker as a natural-born Filipino citizen.
“Whether or not the cliffhanger 5-4 decision of the Senate Electoral Tribunal that Senator Grace Poe is a natural-born Filipino citizen is appealed to the Supreme Court and regardless of the SC’s decision on this issue, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has no other recourse but to dismiss all disqualification cases against Poe that involve her citizenship,” said Atty. Romulo Macalintal in a statement.
He noted that the ruling only showed that the independent presidential aspirant in next year’s polls did not “deliberately attempt to mislead the voters” regarding her citizenship.
“Now that the sole constitutional body, i.e., the SET, had declared her to be a natural-born Filipino citizen and considering the various opinions of known constitutionalists and legal experts that she is a natural-born Filipino, it could not be said that she made a ‘deliberate attempt to mislead the voters’ of her being a natural-born Filipino citizen,” Macalintal explained.
On the other hand, he said he is convinced that the issue on her residency should still be decided by the poll body.
He added that the years Poe resided in the country from May 2005, when she was still an American citizen, until she took her Oath of Allegiance in July 2006 to reacquire Philippine citizenship, “should be added to her “period of residency” in the Philippines.
“This is so because the SC ruled that “residency is not dependent on citizenship” in that “the loss of one does not necessarily result in the loss of the other.” Thus, counting her residence in the Philippines in 2005 when she was still an American citizen and the period of her residency since she took her Oath of Allegiance in July 2006 till the May 2016 elections, she has fully complied with the 10-year residency requirement to qualify as candidate for President of the Philippines as provided under the Constitution,” he added.
On Tuesday, the SET, voting 5-4, junked the petition questioning her citizenship when she ran for senator in the 2013-midterm polls. (PNA)