By Jelly F. Musico
MANILA, Dec. 16 (PNA) — A counsel for Sen. Grace Poe on Wednesday asked the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to take a second look at the voluminous documents they have presented to prove that she has complied with the citizenship and residency requirements for presidential candidates.
In a 90-page motion for reconsideration, lawyer George Garcia asked the COMELEC en banc to reverse the resolution of the First Division ordering the cancellation of Poe’s certificate of candidacy (COC) for president due to alleged false statements on her nationality and period of residence in the Philippines.
Garcia insisted that Poe is a natural-born Filipino citizen and has complied with the 10-year residency requirement in the Constitution, having been an actual resident of the Philippines since May 24, 2005.
Contrary to the findings of the First Division, Garcia said Poe did not commit “material misrepresentation” when she declared in her COC that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen as earlier determined by the nine-member Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET).
“It was not false for [Poe] to state in her COC that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen,” Garcia stressed.
He said the Nov. 17 decision of the SET upholding the natural-born status of Poe “negates the falsity of [her] representation in the COC for president that she is a natural-born Filipino.”
“As a foundling, [Poe] was a citizen from birth who did not have to perform any act to acquire or perfect her Philippine citizenship,” Garcia argued.
Garcia said the First Division erred in saying that Poe is a naturalized citizen unless she can present evidence that either of her parents is a natural-born Filipino.
“Certainly, burdening a defenseless child with proving the impossible – identifying the very persons who abandoned [her] – is not in [her] best interest. It is cruel, humane and merciless,” he said.
Likewise, Garcia said Poe “did not intend to deceive anyone” when she stated in her COC that she will be a resident of the country for “10 years and 11 months” by the elections of May 6, 2016.
Garcia said that although Poe used a different reckoning date in her COC for senator in 2013, she was “not barred from proving her actual period of residence as a question of fact,” citing previous Supreme Court rulings including that in the case of former First Lady Imelda Marcos.
“The fact that these decisions of the Supreme Court support [Poe’s] statement in her COC for president as to the actual period of her residence negates any claim that she acted with intent to mislead or misrepresent when she filed said COC with the COMELEC,” he explained.
Considering that Poe did not commit any material misrepresentation in her COC, Garcia said the disqualification cases pending before the COMELEC en banc “are relegated to nothing but premature attempts to attack her eligibility for the presidency.”
“These petitions should be dismissed outright, and perhaps converted into petitions for quo warranto which may be filed with the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, but only if [Poe] is elected and proclaimed president,” Garcia said.
He said that if the petitioners insist on attacking Poe’s qualifications, “they would effectively be asking the COMELEC to deprive the Filipino people of their sovereign right to decide whom should she serve as the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines, which is obviously not a justiciable question, but a purely political one.”
“That decision is solely within the province of the Filipino people to decide and not the COMELEC,” he added. (PNA)