'Decency requires Poe should fix citizenship issue first'

MANILA, Philippines – Lawyer Rizalito David on Wednesday, September 30, called on Senator Grace Poe to fix her citizenship issue first before running for president in the 2016 elections.

"Decency requires that she fix it first before she makes a fool out of the people na suportahan siya, bigyan siya ng pera, mag-donate sa kanyang kampanya, na 'yun naman pala ay hindi maaaring matuloy dahil, unang-una, hindi na siya natural born Filipino citizen," David told reporters on Wednesday.

(Decency requires that she fix it first before she makes a fool out of the people who will support her, give her money, donate to her campaign, when it's possible she can't run because first and foremost, she's not a natural born Filipino citizen. )

Poe is facing a disqualification case filed against her by David, a defeated senatorial candidate in 2013. The petitioner is questioning Poe's qualification as senator, arguing that since she is a foundling, there is a possibility that she is not a natural born Filipino and should have been disqualified as senator.

David filed on Wednesday a 160-page Offer of Evidence meant to "boost" their position that Poe is not a natural born Filipino. (READ: TIMELINE: Grace Poe's citizenship, residency)

No citizenship?

In fact, his camp argues that Poe has no citizenship – not even naturalized, as what Senior Justice Antonio Carpio, chair of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), said during the SET oral arguments on September 21.

"'Yung naturalized status niya na 'yun ay nawala nung kaniyang ni-renounce 'yung pagiging Filipino niya at in-embrace niya 'yung pagiging Amerikano nung 2001. Ngayon, pagbalik niya ng Pilipinas, nirere-acquire niya 'yung kanyang citizenship under [Republic Act] 9225 that is reserved for natural born Filipino citizens. But she is not a natural born citizen, she is merely a naturalized Filipino," David said.

(Her naturalized status was lost when she renounced her Filipino citizenship and embraced being an American in 2001. Now when she went back to the Philippines, she re-acquired her citizenship under RA 9225 that is reserved for natural born Filipino citizens. But she is not a natural born citizen, she is merely a naturalized Filipino.)

He added: "Pagdating ng 2010, ni-renounce niya 'yung pagiging Amerikano niya (By 2010, she renounced her American citizenship), it became effective in 2012, so in 2012 she is neither Filipino nor American." 

David's counsel Manuelito Luna said there are options for Poe: her husband, as an American, can re-petition her to become naturalized as spouse; or she can file a petition for naturalization under Commonwealth Act 473.

But this issue will be "difficult" to fix, David said, since Poe's documents were "built" on a lie.

"Kaya minsan 'pag iniisip ko rin, nakakaawa 'yung kanyang status ngayon dahil naniwala siya dun sa kanyang mga abugado nung ginagawa nila 'yung mga papeles, na 'yung mga papeles [are] building on a lie and so the lies became bigger, now it's really difficult to fix it," he added

(Sometimes, when I think about it, I also pity her status now because she believed in her lawyers when they worked on her documents, that those documents are building on a lie and so the lies became bigger, now it's really difficult to fix.)

Opposition to presidential bid?

Asked if he will oppose Poe's presidential bid, which will be made official after the filing of Certificates of Candidacy (COCs), David said that as it is, other groups are already mulling this move – including other lawyers and a La Salle professor.

"Maraming mag-file, hindi nangangailangan na ako, dahil sa dami na ng nagsabi na sila ay mag-file. Maaaring mag-file din ako, pero hindi na kailangan dahil madami na e," he added.

(Many will file, it doesn't have to be me, because many have already expressed their intention to file. I could also file, but it's no longer necessary because others would do so.)

For Luna, this proves that David did not file the disqualification case "for a personal reason" or agenda, but is "merely acting on his own as a citizen of this country" to "defend the rule of law."

The SET required both camps to submit their memorandum on or before October 6, or 15 days after the September 21 oral arguments.

David said they will likely submit the memorandum – a summary of all their arguments – on Thursday, October 1, or at the latest, on Monday, October 5. They're hoping for a decision from the tribunal before the filing of COCs. – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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