Poe camp won’t ask Carpio to inhibit from disqualification case

Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - October 1, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The camp of Sen. Grace Poe will not join calls for Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio to inhibit from the disqualification case against the presidential frontrunner before the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET).

Poe’s lawyer George Garcia said they remain confident in the independence and integrity of Carpio, whose inhibition in the SET case was sought by law experts over his alleged prejudgment of the case.

Former justice secretary and I-BAP Rep. Silvestre Bello III and former senator Rene Saguisag earlier called on Carpio to inhibit following his comment during oral argument that Poe – being a foundling – is not a natural-born citizen and hence, not qualified for electoral post unless she proves that her biological parents are Filipinos.

Garcia said their team remains “highly confident” the nine-member tribunal will rule on the disqualification petition filed by Rizalito David based on merits – and ultimately acknowledge that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen.

“We believe that the (SET) will really resolve this case based on the law, based on their conscience, based on their own interpretation of the controversy and the given facts,” he told reporters in the SC.

He stressed Poe and her supporters believe in the integrity and independence of the other SET members: SC Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and Arturo Brion and Sens. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Nancy Binay, Pia Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Vicente Sotto III and Cynthia Villar.

“If we will allow emotion to prevail over logic and common sense, we might as well seek the inhibition of all nine members of the SET. That is not the case here,” Garcia explained.

He expressed confidence SET members would not vote based on their political affiliations.

“This is no different from an impeachment court. Even if they are senator-judges, they are expected to resolve the case based on the evidence presented,” he pointed out.

Garcia also said they are confident of proving Poe’s being a natural born Filipino even without the results of her DNA test. He said Poe is expected to release the result of her DNA tests next week.

He said the senator agreed to undergo a DNA test not because she wanted to verify her citizenship, but rather to establish her relationship with relatives as part of her “personal search for truth.”

“For her (Poe), this is more of a personal rather than a legal undertaking. (DNA testing) is not even required in our case because we can prove her natural born status even without it,” Garcia pointed out.

Poe, the topnotcher in the 2013 senatorial race and a frontrunner in recent presidential preference surveys, is facing a disqualification case before the SET due to questions on her citizenship.

But her legal team insists that Poe is a Filipino citizen from birth and does not have to go through a naturalization process to become a citizen – a position shared by several respected legal minds, including retired Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban and Saguisag.

Her lawyers cited the long-standing presumption and principle of customary international law that a foundling is considered to have been born in the state where he or she was found.

The legal team said the presumption prevails unless proof to the contrary is presented, noting that Rule 31 of the Rules of Court provides that “whoever alleges must prove.”

Garcia noted that during oral arguments at the SET, David’s lawyer Manuel Luna admitted they have no evidence to prove that Poe’s parents are foreigners.    

Resolved in a month

SET’s Legarda said the body is likely to decide on Poe’s case in a month’s time.

“A timeline has already been set and by the first week of November, I believe a decision will be made,” she told ABS-CBN News Channel.

In the meantime, she said Poe can file her certificate of candidacy on Oct. 12-16.

She said that to her knowledge, the SET has no further hearing on Poe’s citizenship case.

She refused to comment on Carpio’s statement on the issue, saying it would not be proper for her, since “we sit together in the SET and I myself might be asked to inhibit.”

Legarda said that during the Sept. 21 hearing, she asked about the implications of any decision of the SET on foundlings. – With Jess Diaz, Christina Mendez, Robertzon Ramirez



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