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Much ado about nothing

/ 12:18 AM September 24, 2015

I listened intently last Tuesday to the lawyers who were the guests in Karen Davila’s TV morning show arguing over the citizenship of Sen. Grace Poe. I was impressed by their display of legal sophistry but, upon reflection, I could not help thinking that we Filipinos love to waste time arguing over academic issues that serve no useful purpose for the country.

An example is the Torre de Manila case that simply involves the issue of whether the building destroys the “visual corridor” of the Rizal monument. What an earth-shaking issue! I don’t know why the Supreme Court had to squander precious time over such a frivolous question; I hope it’s not because, as argued by the petitioner in that case, it involves “the soul of the nation”? What highfalutin nonsense!

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People, including the lawyers, will have to admit that there are good arguments for concluding that Grace Poe is a natural-born citizen, and that, if one is objective and nonpartisan, her natural-born citizenship status is legally and strongly defensible. To be sure, rather than trying to disqualify her, we should be able to find better use of our time by thinking what’s good for our country and whether she will make a good president, instead of assailing her citizenship by nitpicking on legal arguments.

What we should be doing is to spend more time educating our electorate on how to exercise their right of suffrage wisely. Since Grace Poe’s natural-born citizenship is legally defensible, why don’t we just accept it and move on to more important matters?

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Why don’t we just allow her to run without any fuss about her citizenship? If she wins, I don’t think her not being a natural-born citizen—which admittedly is a debatable issue—will make a whit of difference. President Barack Obama, if you believe Donald Trump, is not even supposed to be an American citizen, but I don’t think that makes Obama any less a good president and a loyal American.

The basic question boils down to this: Will Grace Poe make a good president? On our decision hangs the fate of the nation. Let’s not quibble over frivolous issues that make no practical sense.

We may end up like neighbors, as reported in the papers from time to time, arguing at the corner store on the best basketball team and finishing their argument by killing each other.

Rogelio A. Vinluan is a former senior partner and managing partner of ACCRA Law.

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TAGS: 2016 Elections, Barack Obama, Citizenship, Donald Trump, Grace Poe, Rizal Monument, Torre de Manila
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