By Jelly F. Musico
MANILA, Nov. 24 (PNA) – Senator Cynthia Villar said on Tuesday she expects that the motion for reconsideration filed by Rizalito David who is seeking the disqualification of Senator Grace Poe will be denied by the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET).
Villar, a member of the SET who voted in favor of Poe, said she assessed carefully the disqualification case filed against Poe through research on the legal side of the issue.
”I don’t think SET will change the decision. My vote is a combination of our advocacy and at the same time, it has legal basis,” Villar said in a Senate media interview.
She explained that based on the discussion of the 1935 Philippine Constitution, “if you are a foundling, you are a citizen of a country where you were found.”
On the case of Poe, she was abandoned by her biological parents in a church in Jaro, Iloilo on Sept. 4, 1968. She was later adopted by actor Fernando Poe Jr. and wife actress Susan Roces.
”The only reason there was no specific reference to foundlings in the 1935 Constitution was that foundlings are few and far in between so that it is not necessary to include a provision on the subject exhaustively,” Villar explained in her one-page separate opinion on Poe’s case.
Villar believes that the burden of proof that Poe is not a natural-born Filipino should be on the shoulder of petitioner David.
”Nobody proved that she is not a Filipino. Her parents might be unknown but they cannot prove that her biological parents are not Filipino,” Villar said.
”In the case of doubt, the advocacy towards children will prevail and at the same time the will of the people who elected her (Poe) as senator,” she added.
Aside from Poe, Senators Vicente Sotto III, Loren Legarda, Pia Cayetano and Paolo Benigno ‘Bam’ Aquino voted to junk David’s petition, 5-4.
The four SET members who voted to disqualify Poe were Senior Justice Antonio Carpio (chairman), Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and Arturo Brion and Senator Nancy Binay, daughter of presidential bet Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Villar said David can elevate the case to the Supreme Court (SC) “but it will take time” for the disqualification case to be decided by the court.
Last Monday, Cayetano said her vote was based “on the appreciation of the case.”
Cayetano’s brother, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, claimed that the five SET members were “sincerely wrong” in junking the disqualification case.
Senator Alan Cayetano is supporting Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who, last Saturday, said his presidential bid “is on the table.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Alan Cayetano slammed Duterte’s critics, particularly Poe’s running mate Senator Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero who said Duterte was merely using Poe’s disqualification case as an excuse to run.
”If you want drama and hypocrisy, Poe-Escudero is there. If you want brave solution and fast action, Duterte-Cayetano is here. We will not cheapen the presidency,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano said Poe should answer directly the issues raised against her instead of hiding behind the back of Escudero. (PNA)