SC to deliberate separately on Poe citizenship, residency

Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - February 28, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) will soon deliberate on citizenship and residency issues against Sen. Grace Poe when it rules on her petition questioning the Commission on Elections (Comelec) ruling disqualifying her from the presidential election.

“The Court will separately deliberate on the issues of whether or not petitioner is natural-born citizen and whether or not petitioner will meet the 10-year residency requirement,” an insider told The STAR.

This is also the reason the magistrates decided to split the two issues at the outset of the case when they set guidelines and issues tackled in the five-part oral arguments, the insider explained.

But the source could not say when e the high tribunal will  exactly vote on the case.

“The Court is aware of the timetable for the elections, so you may expect the decision soon,” the insider said.

The insider belied rumors that the justices have voted 9-6 on the case, saying it was impossible because the justice-in-charge has not yet submitted a draft decision for deliberation. 

There was also talk that at least eight justices were seen to favor Poe per assessment of court observers based on the lines of questioning of justices during the oral arguments.

But the separate deliberations on the citizenship and residency issues could mean that the SC justices may come up with different voting on the two issues in the case.

Observers said among the probabilities is a “middle-ground ruling” that would declare Poe as a natural-born citizen despite being a foundling, but affirm her disqualification in the presidential race for lack of 10-year residency as required by the Constitution.

In that case, Poe would be able to again run for president in the next general elections in 2022. 

If a majority of the justices, however, decide to grant her petition on both citizenship and residency issues, there will be no more legal impediment to her presidential bid in May. 

The Comelec disqualified Poe on the grounds that she is not natural-born citizen being a foundling and she has not met the 10-year residency requirement.

The poll body argued that Poe’s intention to stay in the country for good was absent since she decided to keep her US citizenship, continued to use her US passport until 2010 after returning here in 2005. The poll body also told the SC that Poe was ambivalent in residing in the country.

Comelec insisted that Poe reacquired her domicile in the country only on Aug. 31, 2006, which means her residency eligibility would still fall short by about three months.   

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