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Foundling Grace now a heroine

12:09 AM September 30, 2015

News outlets are suddenly besieged with diverging opinions on whether a foundling found in the Philippines is a natural-born citizen or not. Not to be outdone, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, chair of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), apparently unable to contain his bias, jumped into conclusion, and declared Sen. Grace Poe a naturalized Filipino citizen.

I wish the good justice, in deference to his delicate role as chair of SET, had exercised prudence as the tribunal deals with a sub judice-like issue. Did the elemental advice to magistrates to always wear their robes with the cold neutrality of an impartial judge slip his mind?

One other thing, I’ve learned that in a lot of important tribunals, the chair usually votes to break a tie, as in the historic rejection of the US bases in 1991, where Senate President Jovito Salonga delivered the crushing tie-breaking vote that caused the uprooting of the American bases in the country.

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On the other hand, the scuttlebutt that “Justice Carpio’s ties with a former law firm buddy now working as counsel to the LP standard-bearer might be the reason behind the unguarded claim” instantly pops up in the mind.

We have heard in a lot of criminal cases the doctrinal caveat of the defense: The accused is innocent until proven otherwise. Thus, why the haste to jump the gun on Senator Poe in a proceeding that barely started? As citizenship cuts deep into an individual’s entire persona, could the State at the very least not treat all its citizens fairly, including foundlings, as natural-born citizens until proven otherwise?

Senator Poe should enjoy the full protection of the State as well as the presumption and the concomitant rights of a natural-born citizen until indisputable proof shows she is not. Again, as in criminal cases, the burden of proving lies on the one accusing.

Meanwhile, Senator Poe’s enigmatic parentage adds up to the suspense—ala the “AlDub” sensation—as was the staple in many of his late father Fernando Poe Jr.’s movies where the climactic truth would be revealed at the end of the film and the hero hailed for taking up the cudgels for the oppressed.

The people’s romance with “Da King” has never stopped even long after his death. If at all the enduring charisma has passed on to his foundling daughter who is now widely-adopted and adored, and has turned into the new darling of the masses.

—TED P. PEÑAFLOR II, Subic Bay Freeport Zone, tedpenaflorii@yahoo.com.ph

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TAGS: Citizenship, Election 2016, foundling, Grace Poe
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