MANILA, Philippines – Although the two failed to see eye to eye in their 2016 plans, President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday, September 22, said the public should be left to judge presidential candidate Grace Poe and the citizenship issues hurled at her.
Speaking to ANC on Tuesday night, Aquino echoed lawyers’ statements that a natural born Filipino is “somebody who never did anything to complete the (citizenship) process.”
The Constitution states there are two kinds of Filipinos – natural born citizens and those naturalized by law. Poe’s camp argued she is a natural born citizen because she did not do anything to acquire or perfect Filipino citizenship
Aquino said the people should decide on the fate of Poe, who earlier declared her presidential bid on September 16. (READ: Grace Poe: I offer myself as your president)
"One would hope that Senator Grace gets the opportunity to be judged by the people to secure the mandate. Vox populi, vox dei (The voice of the people is the voice of God," Aquino said, adding that it was his own opinion.
On Monday, September 21, Senate Electoral Tribunal chairman and Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio said foundling Poe is a “naturalized” citizen, citing international covenants.
Poe, for her part, welcomed the President's statement, saying she was "touched" that Aquino sympathizes with her position.
This, she said, is one of the reasons why Aquino continues "to enjoy a strong mandate and approval of fellow countrymen."
"With his statement he's beginning to show that beyond the colors of politics, he believes in protecting the integrity of a free and fair democratic elections," Poe told Rappler in a text message.
Aquino and Poe met several times in the past but failed to reach an agreement. Aquino and the ruling Liberal Party publicly wooed Poe to be the running mate of administration standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, even as they consistenly questioned Poe’s competence in government service. (READ: Aquino on Grace Poe: #SaTamangPanahon)
Poe declined the offer, saying members of the LP attacked her behind her back. She then announced her own presidential bid.
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org