MANILA, Philippines – Former University of the East Law Dean Amado Valdez, one of the 4 petitioners that sought the cancellation of Senator Grace Poe’s Certificate of Candidacy, asked the Supreme Court to uphold the Commission on Elections decision to disqualify Poe from the 2016 presidential elections.
In a 71-page comment filed before the SC on Monday, January 11, Valdez urged the High Court to decide on the case based on its legal merits and not on public clamor.
Valdez said election results could not “override the constitutional and statutory requirements” for the qualifications of candidates. Another petitioner, lawyer Estrella Elamparo, shared his sentiment, saying the issue is not a "popularity contest."
"When a person who is not qualified is voted for and eventually garners the highest number of votes, even the will of the electorate expressed through the ballot cannot cure the defect in the qualifications of the candidate," Valdez said.
He said it would be a violation of the Constitution to leave the decision on this issue to the electorate.
"To rule otherwise is to trample upon and rent asunder the very law that sets forth the qualifications and disqualifications of candidates. We might as well write off our election laws if the voice of the electorate is the sole determinant of who should be proclaimed worthy to occupy elective positions in our republic," he added.
He maintained that Comelec did not commit grave discretion when it ruled to cancel Poe’s COC based on her questionable citizenship and residency. (READ: How Comelec commissioners voted on Grace Poe's case)
Poe's 'binding oath of allegiance' to the US
Even if Poe ultimately proves her birth parents are Filipinos, Valdez insisted she is still not natural-born.
Valdez said Poe renounced her Philippine citizenship in 2001 and had to undergo a process in 2006 – through Republic Act 9225 or the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003 – to re-acquire it. (READ: TIMELINE: Grace Poe's citizenship, residency)
The 1987 Constitution defined a natural-born Filipino as someone who did not “perform any act to acquire or perfect” her citizenship.
"This fact is intentionally ignored by petitioner (Poe).... As worded, there is no clear authority under RA 9225 to allow her to reacquire the same [natural-born] status after renouncing her Filipino citizenship," Valdez said.
Valdez further argued that Poe’s dual citizenship from 2006 to 2010 – including her repeated use of US passport and her maintenance of assets abroad – might be harmful to the country if she becomes the next president.
"By petitioner’s failure to renounce American citizenship immediately upon reacquiring Filipino citizenship in 2006, she remained a loyal citizen of the United States of American and bound by her binding oath of allegiance to that country," Valdez explained. – Rappler.com