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Poe sees hope in Sereno’s opinion on foundlings

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - February 3, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Grace Poe is banking on the statement of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno supporting the rights of foundlings in a bid to continue her candidacy in the May elections.

Poe was encouraged by Sereno’s comments during the third day of oral arguments on her disqualification case.

“We take refuge in the statement of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, fighting hard for the rights of foundlings like me,” Poe said.

“It rings loud and clear that the right of foundlings to a nationality will just be empty rhetoric, unless the government accords it due respect and implements this right,” she added.

Meanwhile, Malacañang distanced itself from Sereno’s opinion that tends to favor Poe, an independent candidate for president.

“As we respect the independence of the judiciary, we believe it is inappropriate for us to offer comments on their deliberations,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda echoed the sentiment, saying “it’s best to wait for the Supreme Court en banc decision and not rely on the opinion of a single individual.”

President Aquino’s preferred successor is Liberal Party standard bearer Mar Roxas.

Poe expressed hope that the public and those who would make final judgment on her case would see things in this light.

Sereno has stated that disqualifying Poe from the elections for being a foundling could set a dangerous precedent and have dire consequences if upheld by the Supreme Court (SC).

At the resumption of oral arguments on Poe’s case last Tuesday, Sereno said declaring foundlings as not natural-born and ineligible for national elective posts would have repercussions on the rights of similarly situated government personnel and scholars.

The Chief Justice believes the position of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) against Poe is discriminatory to foundlings as it makes them second-class citizens.

In her interpellation of Comelec Commissioner Arthur Lim, the SC chief read a long list of positions in government that are open only to natural-born citizens.

“If you are saying that foundlings are not natural-born citizens, have you thought about the impact on the rights of all foundlings?” Sereno asked Lim.

She said the SC now has to categorically answer the question about Poe’s status, because the pronouncements it would make will affect many others.

Citing constitutional provisions on citizenship, particularly on the theory of bloodlines and the rights of foundlings, Sereno lamented that foundlings would be deprived of the rights of ordinary citizens if the SC upholds the position of the poll body on Poe’s case.

The Chief Justice said the high tribunal in the past had accorded foundlings the presumption of status as natural-born Filipinos beyond simply applying the right of blood principle on citizenship. – With Delon Porcalla

ACIRC CHIEF JUSTICE CHIEF JUSTICE MA COMELEC COMMISSIONER ARTHUR LIM EDWIN LACIERDA FOUNDLINGS GRACE POE LOURDES SERENO POE SERENO SUPREME COURT
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