Poe seeks more time for DNA test result submission

Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - October 21, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The camp of Sen. Grace Poe is requesting for two more weeks to submit the results of her DNA testing after she failed to beat yesterday’s deadline set by the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET).

The SET is deliberating on a disqualification case filed against Poe on the basis of questions regarding her citizenship. The tribunal is set to rule on the case next month.

Poe’s lawyers are seeking an extension of the deadline, saying the DNA testing has not been completed yet.

“Her counsel filed a motion for extension to submit until Nov. 5. The DNA process involves a number of probable matches and has not yet been completed,” SET spokesperson Irene Guevarra said in a text message.

Guevarra said the nine-member tribunal has not immediately acted on the plea, adding that copies of the motion have yet to be distributed to members of the tribunal.

Poe’s lawyer Alexander Poblador revealed earlier that Poe would undergo DNA testing for possible matches to prove that either of her biological parents is a Filipino citizen.

He said this would debunk the disqualification case filed with the SET by Rizalito David in connection with Poe’s election in 2013 as senator.

Poe has been subpoenaed by the Commission on Elections to appear in a hearing on Nov. 3 regarding the case. David’s lawyer Manny Luna said the Comelec Law Department has asked Poe to submit a counter affidavit as part of the preliminary investigation.

Last August, David filed an election offense case against Poe with the Comelec for violating the Omnibus Election Code in relation to her citizenship.

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista in a TV interview said it was important for the commission to resolve the Poe case at the soonest possible time so as not to confuse voters.

Poe, the frontrunner in the presidential surveys, confirmed last month that she underwent a DNA test to prove that she is a Filipino, born of Filipino parents.

She said she has been trying for years to find out who her biological parents were even if they apparently had chosen to abandon her.

In June, Poe went to Iloilo and met with family friends who, she said, gave her more information about the possible identity of her biological parents.

She was told her biological father could be Edgardo Militar, a brother-in-law of Sayong Militar who was reportedly the one who found her inside the Jaro cathedral nearly five decades ago.

Militar was, in fact, the signatory in her foundling certificate, indicating he was the one who found her in the church.

Poe said Militar had died but her children expressed their willingness to help her determine whether they are related.

SET chairman and Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio welcomed the DNA testing, saying that would give a “conclusive presumption of filiation.”

During oral argument, Carpio commented that Poe – being a foundling – is not a natural-born citizen qualified for electoral post unless she proves that her biological parents are Filipinos.

The same question on Poe’s citizenship has been raised in recent disqualification petitions filed with the Commission on Elections after her filing of certificate of candidacy for the presidency. – With Paolo Romero, Christina Mendez, Sheila Crisostomo

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