Poe to critics: Call US employers to verify my SSN

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Presidential bet Senator Grace Poe on Friday, March 4, blasted critics for alleging she used a "fake" social securiy number in the United States.

A newspaper article earlier accused Poe of using two social security numbers: SN 538-25-2008 and SSN 005-03-1988. The last number, the report said, was allegedly issued between 1934 and 1951, or even before the senator was born in 1968, and that it belonged to a dead person.

Poe maintained the questionable SSN was her student number in Boston College, where she graduated in 1991. She said she had requested for a copy of her official school number.

“Gusto kong linawin ito ha. Sumulat na ako sa aking paraalan para kumuha ng kopya ng aking student ID number. Di ko alam paano nakuha 'yon, sabi nila sa Internet. Ang 005-003-1988 ay aking Boston College student ID number. Lahat ng mga estudyante noon ini-issue-han 'yon. As a transfer student from UP Manila 'yun ang binigay nila sa akin,” Poe said in a press conference here.

(I want to make this clear. I already wrote to my school to get  copy of my student ID number. I don't know how they (critics) got hold of it. They say through the Internet. The number 005-003-1988 is my student ID number in Boston College. All students were issued that. As a transfer student from UP Manila, that's what they gave me.)

The neophyte senator clarified she indeed used her student number in official documents in the US, but only as a student. After all, she had no social security number then. At the time, Poe was still a Filipino citizen and was only studying in the US.

According to the US Social Security Administration, an SSN is needed to get a job, collect social security benefits, and get some other government services. 

“Minsan ginagamit ko 'yun sa mga documents noong ako’y estudyante pa to reference ang aking estado doon as a student. Dahil ako nama’y di nagtatrabaho noon kahit sa campus ng aking paaralan. As a student, di ako nagtatrabaho kahit sa campus, [kaya] di ko kinailangan ng social security noon. Pagkatapos noong ako’y naging maybahay na dun na ako nagkaron ng social security,” Poe explained.

(Sometimes I used it on documents when I was still a student to reference my state as a student there. Because I was not working there, even inside the campus. As a student, I was not working even inside the campus so I didn't need a social security number then. After that, when I became a wife, that's when I got my social security number.)

Poe married husband Neil Llamanzares, a citizen of both the US and the Philippines since birth, in July 1991. (READ: TIMELINE: Grace Poe's citizenship, residency)

A challenge to critics

Poe and her camp blasted the unrelenting attacks against the senator, calling it black propaganda.

She said the issue is something personal to her, as it aims to attack her supposed “capital” in politics – her honesty.

“Nakakalungkot sapagkat 'pag wala na silang mahanap pati 'yon ay titirahin nila para lamang masabi na ako’y di tapat. Subalit 'yan ang aking puhunan kaya personal na dinadamdam ko iyan,” Poe said.

(I'm sad because if they cannot find any dirt on me, they will use even that small thing against me, just so they could say I am not honest. But that is my capital that's why I am personally hurt about it.)

Poe then challenged her critics to contact her previous employers to see if she indeed used a “fake SSN” as a US citizen.

“Usually kailangan ng social security para makakuha ng loan, makabili ng bahay, makakuha ng employment. Sulatan ninyo lahat ng employers ko noon kung 'yun ang ginamit ko,” Poe said.

(Usually, a social security is needed to get a loan, buy a house, and get employment. Write to all my employers then to check if I used that.)

While in the US, Poe worked as a preschool teacher, a product manager, and as a procurement liaison with the United States Geological Survey. (READ: 15 things you did not know about Grace Poe)

The senator further denied the allegations, saying it did not make sense to use a dead person’s number. 

“Unang una, series of 1930s pa daw 'yun. May isang taong namayapa pa na ginamit ko numero noon. Pipili ba naman ako na galing sa panahon na 'yun na pag 'pinakita pa lang at nakita nang itsura mo at edad mo, ay magkakaron na ng red flag para doon?” she said.

(First of all, they say it was from the 1930s. There's this dead person whose number I supposedly got. Would I choose a number from that year, which if I show it to them and they see my face and age, and would raise a red flag?) – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.

image