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Carpio: Poe not natural-born

SENATOR Grace Poe, the front-runner in presidential voter preference surveys, is a Filipino under international law, but not a natural-born citizen because she is a foundling, Senior Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said Monday.

But Poe’s lawyer Alexander Poblador argued there was no contradiction between Philippine laws and the generally accepted “presumption of nationality” under international law and Poe had even undergone DNA tests to prove her ethnicity and filiation.

The DNA knows. The Senate Electoral Tribunal, chaired by Senior Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, convened on Monday to hear oral arguments on the citizenship of Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares, who has declared her intent to run for president in 2016. DANNY PATA

“If there is a customary international law saying foundlings can be deemed citizens of the country where they were found, we apply that under the principle of incorporation,” Carpio opined during oral arguments at a hearing of the Senate Electoral Tribunal on Monday.

“But you are still a naturalized citizen, not natural born. Because if customary international law says a foundling is natural born, it will violate our Constitution and we cannot apply it here,” Carpio said as he questioned Manuelito Luna, lawyer of Rizalito David who filed the case against Poe.

Another SET member, Associate Justice Arturo Brion, said Poe may have to prove she is an offspring of a Filipino parent so she can be declared a natural-born citizen, and Poblador revealed that Poe is undergoing DNA testing to prove her filiation.

“We are already in the process of conducting DNA test for probable parents of the senator,” Poblador told the nine-man SET.

Poe herself confirmed at the Senate that she underwent a DNA test for comparison with people who approached her and claimed they are relatives of Poe’s biological parents.

“It’s already under process,” Poe told reporters. “They were the ones who approached me. I can’t identify [those who submitted DNA samples] because they are private persons.”

“All I can say is, I would be very happy if they are really my blood relatives because they are very decent people and very kind,” Poe added.

However, Poblador said the DNA tests were undertaken “without prejudice to our legal position. We do not have the burden of proof and that we have the presumption of law in our favor.”

Poblador said the quo warranto petition against Poe should be dismissed because complainant David, whom Poe defeated in the 2013 elections, has not presented proof Poe is not a Filipino citizen.

“Because her parents are unknown there is no evidence that her mother or father was not a Filipino. Petitioner rather than the respondent has the burden of proof to prove that respondent was not a natural-born Filipino citizen,” Poblador said.

“This rule cannot be thrown away just because the respondent is a foundling. [David] cannot shift this burden by simply saying that since respondent is a foundling there is no evidence that her parents are natural-born Filipino,” Poblador added.

Poblador also noted that Article 14 of the 1930 Hague Convention provides that “a child whose parents are both unknown shall have the nationality of the country of birth.”

The provision added that “if the child’s parentage is established, its nationality shall be determined by the rules applicable in cases where the parentage is known.”

Poblador added that the said article provides that “a foundling is, until contrary is proved, presumed to have been born on the territory of the State in which it was found.”

Poe’s camp also cited the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, which held that a foundling is presumptively citizen of the country where he or she is found and presumed to be born of parents who are citizens of that country.

Poblador added that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child stressed that every child has the right to acquire from birth a nationality and that its contracting State shall ensure the implementation of such right.

“The petitioner must show that Senator Poe’s parents are foreigners. We do not have the burden of proof,” he argued.


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