The Supreme Court has formally declared that Senator Grace Poe is qualified to run as president in the 2016 elections.
Nine out of 15 justices voted in favor of Senator Poe; including Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Justice Presbiterio Velasco, Justice Diosdao Peralta, Justice Lucas Bersamin, Justice Jose Perez, Justice Jose Mendoza, Justice Marvic Leonen, Justice Francis Jardeleza, and Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.
Those who voted against Senator Poe were Justice Antonio Carpio, Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Justice Mariano Del Castillo, Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Justice Bienvenido Reyes, and Justice Arturo Brion.
The formal resolution of the Supreme Court is expected to be issued in the next few days.
It can be recalled that Senator Poe, one of the five presidential candidates in the 2016 elections, was disqualified by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc last December 23.
This was in contrast with the Senate Electora Tribunal’s November 17 resolution, stating that Senator Poe is a natural-born Filipino.
Senator Poe, however, is facing at least four disqualification complaints about her residency and citizenship status.
Last December 28, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Comelec’s decision to cancel Senator Poe’s certificate of candidacy (COC).
The high court affirmed its TRO with regard to the disqualification cases filed against Senator Poe in January 12.
This was followed by five rounds of oral arguments in the high court, conducted from January 19 to February 16.
During the first round of oral arguments, Senator Poe’s legal counsel Atty. Alexander Poblador answered the justices’ queries about the senator’s timeline about her dual citizenship up to her decision to move back to the Philippines.
Atty. Poblador maintained, “Yes, before she could run for president, she had to renounce her US citizenship and she had done that.
“Insofar as the requirements of law are concerned, I think she followed the law completely, she followed the law.”
In the third round of oral arguments, Chief Justice Sereno cited three Supreme Court resolutions, wherein the status of citizenship was presumed to be “natural-born Filipino,” beyond the mere basis of blood relationship.
In the fifth round of oral arguments, Solicitor General Florin Hilbay was required to submit his memorandum, including the legal basis for declaring that foundlings are considered natural-born Filipinos.
In its January 4 statement, the Office of the Solicitor General commented on the citizenship status of foundlings, based on the deliberations made during the 1934 Constitutional Convention.
An excerpt from the OSG’s comment, signed by Hilbay, read: “Regardless of whether foundlings be specifically mentioned in the proposed Constitution as Filipinos, the basis for considering them as such was the understanding that the rule under the Spanish Code which considered a foundling as 'the son of a Spaniard' was also the governing rule in the Philippines.”
Hilbay also stressed that the SET did not commit grave abuse of discretion when it declared Senator Poe a natural-born Filipino.