MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe submitted on Tuesday, September 1, a 107-page reply to the disqualification case filed against her before the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET).
The case, filed by 2013 losing candidate Rizalito David, claims Poe is not a Filipino citizen and, therefore, has no right to be in the Senate. (PODCAST: ‘Grace Poe thought she could get away’ – David)
The lawyers of Poe urged the tribunal to junk the petition, saying the prescribed period to question Poe’s qualifications as a senator has lapsed.
Poe’s camp said her qualification may only be questioned within the first 10 days since her proclamation in 2013.
“It’s been more than 2 years since she was proclaimed, that’s why this issue could no longer be discussed,” said Poe’s camp in a statement released to the media.
Her camp said a sitting senator’s citizenship may be questioned at any time, provided that the senator changed his/her nationality after proclamation or when he/she hid being a foreigner during the filing of certificate of candidacy.
“Hindi siya nagpalit ng citizenship matapos iproklama, at lalong hindi po siya maaaring akusahan na may itinagong mga circumstances sa kanyang pagkatao,” the statement said.
(She did not change her citizenship after she was proclaimed. All the more she could not be accused of hiding circumstances pertaining to her personal life.)
Poe’s camp questioned her detractors now, saying if they knew then that she was a foundling and not a natural born citizen, they should have filed the case during the prescribed period in 2013.
Citing the fact that more than 20 million Filipinos voted for her in the last elections, her camp said it is more than enough to support her claims that she is a natural born Filipino.
“The whole country knew that Senator Poe is a foundling even before she ran for senator, she was voted by more than 20 million Filipinos, the country has decided that a foundling is a natural born Filipino. Nothing can be more powerful than the voice of the people,” the statement said.
(Read the full text of the reply that Poe submitted to the SET.)
The neophyte senator said she is relieved to have finally submitted the necessary documents.
She earlier admitted having fears that her detractors might “tamper” documents, citing what happened to her father in 2004.
“It’s one of relief na maibigay na rin ‘yan sapagkat ‘yung mga question kung ako ba ay natural born o hindi ay nasagot naman namin d’yan. ‘Yung mga dokumento na kailangan para patunayan yon ay nabigyan na rin kami ng pagkakataon na maisumite,” Poe said.
(It’s one of relief to finally submit [documents] because we are able to answer through that questions on my citizenship – whether I am a natural born Filipino or not. We were also given the chance to submit the documents to prove it.)
Some of the documents submitted are Poe’s immigration files and birth certificate, which she said was earlier subpoenaed by the tribunal.
David earlier said Poe is stateless, as she is a foundling. She was adopted by movie stars Susan Roces and Fernando Poe Jr. A family friend, who got the infant from the Catholic church where she was left in Iloilo, brought her to the couple. (READ: In Iloilo, Grace Poe finds new clues to real parents)
David also pointed out that, aside from not being a natural born Filipino, Poe took her oath of allegiance to the United States, and used an American passport in 2009.
Poe is also facing a disqualification case before the Commission on Elections. – Rappler.com