Poe’s birth mom, come out if you can
Even Jesus had a birth mother. Believed by Christians worldwide to be the Son of God and redeemer, he went through the human process of being conceived and brought into the world through Mary some 2,015 years ago. This is the reason for this Christmas season’s celebrations.
Because Sen. Grace Poe is a foundling, there is no record of her actual birth, only stories on the where, when, how and who found her. At this time, when Poe badly needs to know who her birth mother is—if the woman is still alive—should she withhold the truth?
Surely she and/or someone else must know that the newborn they left in a church in Jaro, Iloilo, grew up to be Senator Poe. Is the personal privacy of Poe’s birth mom so important that she would jeopardize her daughter’s ambition to be president? Or might the truth hurt and create more wounds for many? This reminds me of the movie “Madame X,” but with a twist.
If Poe’s birth mom is dead, she had confidantes at the time she had Poe in her womb, and these persons might have known who the child’s father was.
Is Poe a natural-born or naturalized citizen of the Philippines? The circumstances of her birth and as a foundling are factors in her qualification/disqualification as a presidential aspirant. With so many legal opinions, we end up even more befuddled.
Two major things are getting in the way of Poe’s aspiration to be president: 1) her citizenship at birth and as a foundling, and 2) the length of her residency prior to her running for the Senate in 2013 and now for the presidency. The second should take 10 fingers to count.
Poe renounced her Philippine citizenship during her early adulthood, acquired US citizenship and lived as an American citizen with her husband and children for many years.
After the death of her adoptive father, the actor Fernando Poe Jr., in 2004, she lived here to be with her adoptive mom, actress Susan Roces. She also reacquired Philippine citizenship (only in 2012, a journalist recently discovered). Her adoptive parents are show biz royalty but her biological parents are still unknown to us, speculations notwithstanding.
What citizenship status Poe reacquired—natural-born or naturalized?—still begs an answer. The length of her residency prior to holding an elective position is another matter.
So, the first question—is she natural-born or naturalized?—has to be settled. But nothing on foundlings is clearly stated in the Constitution. Philippine citizenship is established by blood, not by being born, in this country. Only the natural-born can aspire for the presidency.
Those who want to see Poe disqualified insist she cannot be presumed natural-born until it is proven that one of her parents is a Filipino citizen. Therefore, they say, she was naturalized when she got her Philippine passport.
Those who defend her natural-born status say she can only be natural-born, because she never had to be naturalized. Applying for a Philippine passport is not an act of naturalization.
And there is the issue of who is to prove what—the complainants to prove that Poe is not natural-born, or Poe to prove that she is natural-born.
One other thing: If Poe is disqualified, meaning she is only naturalized, or if her residency is found to be short of what is required, what does that make of the Commission on Elections? Remiss in its duty in examining candidates’ qualifications? How much should the Comelec presume? Should it wait for a party to question and even go all the way to the Supreme Court?
The only thing that will settle Poe’s citizenship once and for all is for one of her biological parents to come forward, prove parentage by DNA testing, and show Philippine citizenship. This true-to-life telenovela still has no end in sight.
Rumors have been spread about Poe’s birth parents, but the story about certain persons who allegedly found her and gave her up to the Poes for adoption seems the official story for now. A photo proves that Jaime Cardinal Sin, then archbishop of Jaro, baptized her before she was adopted.
Poe is only in her 40s. Her biological parents are likely to be alive. While she says that she is trying to find her blood relatives, and even had an emotional meeting (with a photo to show) with the woman who briefly cared for her when she was an infant, there is one thing I noticed she has not done: openly and directly plead to her biological mother to come forward.
Most children who were born in homes for unwed mothers and who went through the legal adoption process have birth records—names of birth parents, dates, etc. They are more likely to track down their birth parents and vice versa through reunion programs. Poe will have a hard time.
The Heart of Mary Villa (HMV), a home for pregnant women and babies waiting to be adopted, has a “search and reunion” service. When I wrote about HMV some years ago, it was handling some 200 searches initiated by both offspring and biological parents.
I have written feature stories on adoption and adopted children. Not too long ago I received a letter from a young man looking for his birth mom through HMV, where he spent his infancy. He just wanted to let his birth mom know he was happy and well. I forwarded his letter to HMV. If it so happened that his birth mother was also looking for him, there would have been a “match.” But some reunions are not meant to be.
Does an adopted child have a legal right to demand access to official records to know who his/her birth mom is? In some countries, yes. Can institutions/persons with private (not legal) records invoke the vow of secrecy and respect for one party’s wish not to be found? Yes, a Good Shepherd nun, a veteran in the adoption process, told me.
Is Poe desperately seeking her birth mom? And is her birth mom inclined to come forward?
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