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Carpio urged to quit case vs Poe

AN OPPOSITION lawmaker on Tuesday asked Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio to inhibit himself “out of decency” from the deliberations on the citizenship case against the putative presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe.

Carpio heads the Senate Electoral Tribunal that is hearing the case, but Rep. Silvestre Bello III said Carpio could not be impartial because he and Avelino Cruz, the counsel of the Liberal Party’s presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II, were both members of the law office The Firm.

Forum. Senator Francis Escudero discusses the disqualification case filed against his running mate Senator Grace Poe at a forum in Quezon City. Ey Acasio

Carpio said Poe was a naturalized Filipino citizen and not a natural-born citizen by virtue of international law during the oral arguments on the case filed against her by the defeated senatorial bet Rizalito David, but Bello took exception to it.

The Constitution says only natural-born citizens may run for President, vice president, senator or congressman. This means Poe may not run for President if, as Carpio has said, she is a naturalized Filipino citizen. 

“Out of decency he [Carpio] should inhibit himself in order that the decision of SET will not be suspected of being partial,” Bello told reporters.

He made his statement even as Malacañang said it would be unfair to politicize the deliberations on the disqualification case against Poe.

George Garcia, one of Poe’s legal counsels, said the senator, a foundling, is a Filipino citizen from birth. He said the legal presumption that foundlings are natural-born Filipino citizens is the reason Poe need not go through the process of naturalization.

House deputy speaker and Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao, president of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, said Carpio’s position on Poe “suffers  a serious defect for shifting the burden of proof to Poe, who is the defendant in the disqualification case.”

“We respect his [Carpio’s] opinion but our reservation in this is that the burden of proof has shifted to Grace. Whoever goes to court carries with him the onus or burden of proof,” Aggabao said.

“David has to show Poe is not a natural-born citizen in order that she can be disqualified from holding her current office,” Aggabao said.

Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya, a new NPC member, said Carpio’s opinion may not necessarily reflect the position of the eight other members of the tribunal.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said foundlings who are unable to identify their parents should no be made to prove that they are natural-born citizens.

“This is a cruel discrimination against foundlings,” Colmenares said.         

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