Postscript to the decision on Grace Poe's citizenship
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty Josephus Jimenez (The Freeman) - November 22, 2015 - 9:00am

With all due respect to the five senators who voted to uphold the citizenship qualification of Senator Grace Poe, many Filipinos like this writer are of the firm stand that the three justices who dissented were more legally correct, not to mention the rather expected vote of Senator Nancy Binay. The five senators namely, Senators Cynthia Villar, Loren Legarda, Vicente "Tito" Sotto, and Paolo Benigno Aquino IV are not lawyers. Without being disrespectful, they did not base their decision on legal principles but obviously on ''esprit de corp'' or on camaraderie. Only senator Pia Cayetano is a lawyer. But then again, her vote was not anchored on law but on "pakikisama sa kapwa senadora, kapwa babae."

The stand of Senior Associate Antonio Carpio, Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and Arturo Brion, a Bar topnotcher (number one in the 1974 Bar Examinations who got more than 93 per cent average) is more in keeping with the legal pricinples involved. The decision of the Senate Electoral Tribunal is a political judgment, not a legal nor a judicial verdict. Thus, there is enough basis to appeal to the Supreme Court on the ground of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. But first, the petitioner has to file a motion for reconsideration to allow the electoral tribunal of the senate to rectify its decision. Besides, a majority of one vote is too precarious and does not convey a clear and unequivocal determination of the legal issue concerned.

Senator Grace Poe might have committed a rather crude breach of protocol and an undue discourtesy to the senior associate justice when, in a press briefing, she attacked Justice Carpio and criticized the good jurist. Poe said that Justice Carpio was invoking international law in defending the territorial integrity of the Philippines in relation to the contested islands under current dispute between our country and China. Poe insisted that Carpio should likewise invoke international law to declare that foundlings in our country are presumed to be natural-born citizens of the Philippines. I believe that Poe is neither legally competent to advise Justice Carpio on legal matters.

On the other hand, while Senator Poe insists that Justice Carpio should have inhibited himself from the resolution of the case, the same senator remains silent on the call for Senator Vicente "Tito" Sotto to inhibit considering that Sotto has been very vocal in his partisan affiliation with Senator Grace. Senator Sotto is one of the senatorial candidates under Poe's line-up. He should have enough "delicadeza" to inhibit himself, otherwise his vote will always be suspected as a partisan judgment in favor of his party mate. Sotto and the late FPJ were close friends. He has always been vocal about it. Thus, without Sotto's vote, the result of the voting should have been four in favor and four against. The tie should have been broken by the vote of the senior justice of the Supreme Court.

All these comments notwithstanding, the legal community has expressed alarm over the decision above cited, and there are many legal initiatives currently being readied to question such ruling before the highest court of the land. With all due respect, the highly political verdict of the Senate Electoral Tribunal should not be taken to adversely affect the pending petitions filed against the presidential candidacy of Senator Grace Poe, particularly those that had been filed by former Senator Francisco "Kit" Tatad, the one by former UE Law Dean Amado Valdez, and the petition by La Salle Dean Antonio Contreras, as well as another lady lawyer and former public official. These petitions are all pending with the Supreme Court. Grace Poe has a lot of legal problems to attend to.

The petition that has been dismissed by a vote of five for and four against was the one filed by Rizalito David. It pertains to the qualifications of Grace Poe for senator. On the other hand, the petition filed by Senator Tatad, Dean Valdez and Dean Contreras all pertain to Grace Poe's qualifications for president. Thus, the camp of the lady senator should not be celebrating yet. The fight is far from over. In fact, because of the highly political verdict of the Senate tribunal, Mayor Duterte has declared that he is now reconsidering his earlier decision not to run for President. Mayor Duterte is a lawyer. Like most of us, he could not accept the highly partisan judgment of the electoral tribunal. Grace Poe has once renounced her citizenship and opted to swear allegiance to the USA. Now, she is doing her best to show that she is a Filipino after all.



  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with