Uncomfortable mistakes

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag - The Freeman

Grace Poe is now in heightened damage control mode. Days after the costly flap of her taking up the cudgels for the Iglesia ni Cristo, she was next seen crying in a speech about child welfare and adoption.

That she was adopted as a child is no secret. And it never caused her any problem until a complaint filed against her by a defeated candidate got misinterpreted, deliberately I would presume, to be an assault on her status as a child.

But the complaint, obviously lodged to scuttle her presidential bid, has very valid legal basis. Politics aside, there really is a legitimate question about her citizenship and her residency status, a question that just cannot be swept under the rug simply because people may want her to be president. Nobody is above the law, least of all the president.

Besides, it is better to put the question to rest now while Poe is not yet a president than when she already is. Then, it will be more destabilizing to rock the boat because of a question that should have been answered at the outset.

And if Poe is truly confident about the legality of her status, and assuming she has faith in the system since she is raring to be part of that system, then she should have nothing to fear with regard to the complaint.

But I have a feeling that she is not comfortable with that complaint, maybe because more and more legal experts, people with less biased minds, have come out to say there is basis for the complaint to be filed, not because they already believe Poe might be guilty or something, but because there is a legitimacy to the question being asked.

The discomfort of Poe first became apparent when she made that almost fatal mistake of siding with the INC in its fallacious and less truthful argument that a department of justice investigation of an illegal detention complaint against some of its officials constituted an assault on its religious freedoms. Nothing can be more ridiculous. Investigating an alleged crime does not have a single hair of religious persecution in it.

Yet Poe let down a lot of people who have come to believe she is a woman of intelligence and probity, in addition to her being non-traditional in her politics, and of being honest as opposed to being a hypocrite. Poe believing investigating an alleged crime constituted an assault on religious freedom? All of a sudden a lot of her admirers became discombobulated. They suddenly do not know where Poe is coming from.

By kowtowing to the INC position, it became obvious that Poe was desperate for added political support, support she knew the INC, with its behest voting characteristic, can surely give.

She needs added political support because it is increasingly becoming very obvious to her that she has already alienated the Liberal Party and that the Nationalist People's Coalition may not have what it takes to propel her to the presidency.

But with elections still some months away, Poe also needed other forms of support, such as what popular sentiment can summon against an adverse ruling on the complaint she is facing. Poe apparently hopes to whip up such a tremendous tide of public support that the Senate Electoral Tribunal, composed largely of politicians vulnerable to public pressure and sentiment, might tremble enough into giving her a clean bill.

But being intelligent, Poe knows even that is not enough, so she has come out to court public sympathy directly by herself, hence that crying spiel. Not this is not to belittle her feelings. As an adopted child, we can only commiserate with her experiences. No one is trying to take away that part of her life and demean it. But she does not have to openly display her emotions over a fact that has never been at question.

If somebody filed a complaint questioning her citizenship and her residency, it was because there were valid reasons to raise the question. Nobody invented the valid reasons, they speak for themselves and they are outlined very clearly and logically in the complaint.

There was never any attempt to assault Poe's person because she was an adopted child. For Poe to even imagine that is to be mentally dishonest on her part. That is why she is uncomfortable. That is why she is making mistakes.














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