IPIL, ZAMBOANGA, SIBUGAY — The Supreme Court (SC) conducted a full court session on March 9 to tackle Poe’s consolidated petition to reverse two decisions of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) canceling her certificate of candidacy for president allegedly due to false material representations on her citizenship and residency.
As of this writing. the Supreme Court is expected to come out with a ruling anytime as it had deemed the case submitted for decision after the parties filed their respective memoranda last February 22.
Candidate for vice-president and Sen. Chiz Escudero said a decision favorable to Poe would recognize the inherent rights of foundlings to hold high office and remove the social stigma under which hundreds of thousands of abandoned children suffer.
However, he warned that foundlings could face “secondary trauma” should the Supreme Court come up with an adverse ruling.
He said the High Court should give justice to foundlings by not stripping them of their natural-born status, which is guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution and international laws.
The vice-presidential frontrunner said the government’s chief legal counsel, Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, had effectively summed up in his written comment and oral arguments what the ruling of the high court should be if it wanted to uphold the principles of human rights and social justice.
Hilbay had earlier defended the rights of foundlings before the SC, asserting that Poe was natural-born and, thus, qualified to run for public office. He said the leading presidential candidate also satisfied the 10-year residency requirement since she had reestablished domicile in the Philippines in May 2005.
In defending the natural-born status of foundlings, Hilbay urged the SC not to commit the error of interpreting the Constitution “without reference to history, structure and social context.”
“To deny foundlings the most fundamental of their political rights because their class is not expressly mentioned in the Constitution is a simplistic and lackadaisical way to interpret the Constitution,” said the top government lawyer.
Escudero also said Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno had cautioned against profound implications for foundlings like Poe if the SC will rule that the senator is barred from running for president for not being a natural-born Filipino citizen.
The country’s top magistrate said that whatever ruling the court adopts should not be based on “absurd and extreme interpretation that may be perceived as cruel and unjust.”
In the memorandum she filed through her legal team, Poe insisted she was denied by the Comelec her right to due process when it disregarded overwhelming evidence proving that she is a natural-born citizen and that she has been a resident of the Philippines since May 24, 2005.
But Poe said she remains confident the Supreme Court will rule in her favor.
“That’s what they also told FPJ before, remember? They said FPJ should be disqualified because he was not a Filipino, but an American. What are they thinking? In my condition, in my situation, we almost hear weekly about children being found among the trash. Are they Filipino? They look Filipino,” said Poe.
She then cracked jokes about her features—being short with a “round” nose that prevented her from becoming a movie actress.
“And then they say I am not a Filipino? They’re using that to disqualify me because they cannot accuse me of stealing or corruption.
In further wooing the votes of Zamboanguenos, she that her adoptive father, the late Fernando Poe Jr’s movies, were based on gallantry and love for the country and the culture of his Mindanao brothers.
“The movie “Zamboanga” started with FPJ. “Perlas ng Silangan,” “Muslim Magnum 357,” “Kahit Butas ng Karayom, Papasukin Ko” were FPJ’s. These were already carved in our history as among the masterpieces of FPJ,” Poe told the crowd at Astoria Convention Center during a political rally here.
She also said cinema owners in Mindanao did not allow FPJ movies to be shown in their theaters if the former “King of Philippine Movies” dies in the film.
She also recalled how some people would swim just to save on transportation so they could watch FPJ’s movies in the city.
“That’s the truth about your love for him and above all, his love for you,” Poe told Zamboanguenos.
Poe said FPJ’s dream for Mindanao was cut short by his death. But that fight, she said, is not yet over, referring to her own polls victory as the number one senator in 2013 and in her current bid for president.
The neophyte senator was first in the senatorial race in the city with 144,058 votes. She also topped the senatorial race in Zamboanga Sibugay.
Zamboanga City and Zamboanga Sibugay are known strongholds of FPJ when he ran for president in 2004.
Because of this love for Mindanao, Poe said they prioritized the region in legislation and budget allocation in the Senate to help its people. She admitted though that their hands are tied since they cannot implement the law.
“So I am now infront of you with new opportunities and a new dawn that perhaps, God is offering for all of us,” she said.
“This is now your time to have a President who would truly prioritize your welfare. In the budget that I and (my running mate), Sen. Chiz Escudero, wanted to pass 30 percent from the national budget for Mindanao. That means, almost a trillion will go here. It can build hundreds in kilometers of roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, and more importantly, it would create employment.
As in past campaigns, Poe also shot back at her critics taunting her for lack of experience. She said it’s better because she has no excess baggages, she’s not indebted to anybody. (SWCA)