David's camp 'confident' majority of SET will vote vs Grace Poe

MANILA, Philippines – The camp of lawyer Rizalito David is confident they have majority of the votes of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) to disqualify Senator Grace Poe from her post.

"Judging from the result of the oral arguments, we are confident that we were able to convince the majority of the members of the SET to favor our side and to rule that the respondent is not a natural born Filipino," David's counsel, Manuelito Luna, told Rappler in an interview Wednesday, September 30.

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's camp filed on Wednesday morning 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)

Luna said the foundling certificate dated November 27, 1968, is the "most potent, powerful proof" that Poe is not natural born, although the senator's camp has not denied that she is a foundling. Other pieces of evidence which Luna deemed are "strong" include:

"We also suspect that this is a rather belated registration meant or intended to facilitate a petition for reacquisition of Philippine citizenship under dual citizenship act because if you look at the dates, it's too close – the petition was filed in July, whereas the recording of the birth certificate of 2006 happened in May 2006 – just over a month," Luna said. 

"We're wondering [that] if Ms Susan Roces was acting in good faith, why is it that it took her 40 years to come up with a new certificate of birth and have it recorded in the civil registrar of Iloilo?"

"Worse, after renouncing citizenship in 2010, before assuming as chairman of MTRCB, she used her US passport again in traveling to and from the US, as evidenced by a consular document…dated September 2011. Her US passport expired only December 2011," he added.

DNA match 'a hope' for Poe

But Luna admitted the situation is "not hopeless" for Poe if she finds a DNA match. 

"They have to show there's a match. There should be a match in order for her to get out of the situation and once and for all settle this issue and prove that she is natural born," he told Rappler.

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 hope the tribunal will decide on the disqualification case before the filing of the Certificates of Candidacy for the 2016 elections, instead of November – the earlier date announced by Senator Vicente Sotto III, a SET member.  

"We were assured that it will be before the filing, but as you can see, it's really the prerogative, discretion of the SET because this is not an easy decision to resolve, this is a case of first impression, so it's really up to them when they can come up with a decision, but it should be at the soonest possible time," Luna told Rappler. – 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.