‘Suit meant to stop Poe’s bid for palace’

THE disqualification case filed with the Senate Electoral Tribunal against Senator Grace Poe, who is leading in the latest presidential surveys, is  a mere ploy to stop her from seeking higher office in 2016, her lead counsel Alexander Poblador said Friday.

Poblador, who accompanied Poe in the preliminary conference hearing on the petition filed by Rizalito David, said the case was directed not so much on her election to the Senate but on the possibility she might run for President.

Initial hearing. Senator Grace Poe arrives at the Supreme Court on Friday for the preliminary hearing on her true citizenship.

He made his statement even as the tribunal on Friday decided to drop the residency issue in resolving the disqualification case against her during the 2013 elections because it was a “non-issue.”

Poe herself said she voluntarily went to the Supreme Court for the first hearing on her disqualification case to refute the allegations against her and to say she was a true Filipino.

She described as very sentimental her attendance at the hearing  as it was a “replay” of what happened to her father, the late Fernando Poe Jr., who lost to former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Since no corruption issues could be hurled against her father, Poe said, they slapped him with a disqualification case.

But she remains hopeful on the fairness of the tribunal’s members and prays their conscience will not be dictated upon because “this election is not only my fight but also the fight of other children who do not know their parents.’

Poblador said the tribunal’s next hearing was set on Sept. 21 and that he expected there would be oral arguments.

He maintained Poe was a natural-born Filipino who met the residency requirement when she ran for the Senate.

Poblador insisted that a foundling like Poe, who was found in the Philippines, was presumed to be Filipino in the absence of contrary proof.

He argued that the 1987 Constitution, international law and domestic laws all favored protecting foundlings.

Women’s and children’s rights advocate lawyer Katrina Legarda has branded as “a form of discrimination against abandoned children” Poe’s disqualification case.

“If a foundling is not presumed natural-born then no abandoned child can ever aspire for national office,” she said.

She said this was a violation of the equal protection of the laws because it appeared there was now a distinction between an abandoned child whose parents were known and an abandoned child whose parents were not known.

She also said Poe satisfies the citizenship and residency requirements mandated in the 1987 Constitution for the Senate and even for higher office.

“There is no question that Poe is natural-born Filipino as cited in a 1951 opinion of the Department of Justice that holds true to this day: A foundling is a citizen of the place where he is found by virtue of the standing principles of international law,” Legarda said.

In the disqualification case, David accuses Poe of being an American citizen and not a natural-born Filipino citizen as required by the Constitution.

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