‘A puzzlement’ in Comelec’s DQ decision vs Grace Poe | Inquirer Opinion
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‘A puzzlement’ in Comelec’s DQ decision vs Grace Poe

12:17 AM December 21, 2015

SOMETHING just doesn’t add up about the 2-1 ruling of the Commission on Elections’ first division canceling Sen. Grace Poe’s certificate of candidacy for president for “(misrepresenting) herself as a natural-born Filipino citizen” (“Comelec DQ strike 2 on Poe,” Front Page, 12/12/15). The majority decision said: “Poe, though a Filipino citizen, was not and could not have been a natural-born Filipino.”

It is by now beyond cavil that there are only two types of Filipino citizenship under our laws and jurisprudence, namely: “natural-born” and “naturalized.” No middle ground there. It’s either one or the other. If not natural-born, it’s naturalized, or vice versa.

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Poe could not have been a naturalized Filipino; she never underwent any naturalization under Commonwealth Act No. 63 (the only law governing the process of naturalization—which is applicable only to foreigners desiring to become Filipino citizens).

Or was she perhaps naturalized under Republic Act No. 9225 (“The Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003”) after she took an “oath of allegiance to the Republic”? Definitely not, because that law is expressly made applicable only to natural-born Filipinos who lost their citizenship after being naturalized as citizens of another country.

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The Comelec’s treatment of Poe as a naturalized citizen has absolutely no basis in fact and in law (be it CA 63 or RA 9225). So what is she then? An unclassifiable Filipino? The Comelec may have invented a new type of naturalization not found in any law. But obviously it has no power to legislate that. Thus, given the only legal choices presently available and by the simple process of elimination and basic logic, Poe could only be treated as a “natural-born” Filipino.

As to the oft-repeated argument that ours is a citizenship that generally adheres to the jus sanguinis (by blood relations) principle, suffice it to say that the Constitution, while being quite explicit about the citizenship of infants of known parents, it is totally silent about the citizenship of infants of unknown parents found in the Philippines.

It is therefore patently erroneous to say that the Constitution abhors the idea of deeming such foundlings “natural-born” citizens of the Philippines. Its adoption of the “generally accepted principles of international law” (such as those relating to the citizenship of foundlings) adds fillip to the proposition that it has opened the door for such principles based on jus soli to form “part of the law of the land”—the bias for jus sanguinis notwithstanding.

On the matter of the Comelec possibly usurping the Presidential Electoral Tribunal’s authority as the “sole judge” of all contests relating to the qualifications of the president or vice president, the Comelec went around that constitutional mandate by distinguishing between a petition for “cancellation of a certificate of candidacy” (which it could entertain) from a petition for “disqualification” (which it should dismiss outright for lack of jurisdiction). It’s palpably pure semantics! At bottom line, the reasons it used to cancel Poe’s COC are the very same reasons being pushed to disqualify her from the presidency! Why the Comelec jumped the gun on the PET is truly a puzzlement.

STEPHEN L. MONSANTO,Monsanto Law Office,Loyola Heights, Quezon City

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TAGS: case, Citizenship, Comelec, decision, disqualification, DQ, Grace Poe, letter, opinion
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