Grace Poe faces Senate Electoral Tribunal for the first time
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe, who is facing a disqualification complaint more than two years after her election, faced for the first time the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) that will decide her political fate and the person questioning her qualifications.
Poe on Friday, September 11, attended the preliminary conference of the disqualification case filed against her by lawyer and losing senatorial candidate Rizalito David. (TIMELINE: Grace Poe's citizenship, residency)
It was a “cordial” meeting, according to SET member Senator Vicente Sotto III.
Poe told reporters that she and David were seated on the same row but separated by a narrow aisle.
Asked if the two of them talked, Poe said there was no “need” as the discussion led by Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, the SET chairman, was “formal.”
On Friday, David raised another issue on Poe's birth certificate, this time questioning the erasures in the document.
The senator’s camp, however, said it is a non-issue as there were no alterations in the document. Poe's lawyer said they were additions made to "reflect" the legal adoption of Poe in 1974. (READ: SET to decide Grace Poe's case by November)
Replay of FPJ’s case
Poe said she “voluntarily” attended the hearing to defend herself, as she maintained she is a natural-born Filipino after renouncing but eventually reacquiring Philippine citizenship in 2001 and 2006, respectively.
“Ako ay kusang nagpunta rito upang depensahan ang mga paratang laban sa akin, depensahan ang aking sarili na walang takot at direkta na sinasabi sa kanila na ako ay isang tunay na Pilipino,” Poe told reporters at the Supreme court.
(I voluntarily went here to defend myself from all the allegations against me, to defend myself and tell them fearlessly and directly that I am a true Filipino.)
Poe said she remembered her father Fernando Poe Jr when she personally appeared in Friday's hearing, citing their similar experiences. (READ: Grace Poe on 2016: 'What would FPJ do?')
FPJ also faced a disqualification case in 2004, when he ran against then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. He won the case but lost to Arroyo in what was widely believed to be a rigged election.
“Alam nyo po, ito po’y replay ng nangyari sa aking tatay. Medyo sentimental nga po ang aking pagdalo ngayon sapagkat nung si FPJ ay tumako noong 2004, wala pong maibato sa kanya na korapsyon o pagnanakaw o di pagtulong sa kapwa…kaya ang ginawa nila ay batuhin s'ya ng issue ng citizenship,” Poe said.
(You know, this is a replay of what happened to my father. My attendance today is a bit sentimental because, when FPJ ran in 2004, they could not throw at him any allegation of corruption or stealing or not helping others...that’s why all they did was throw citizenship issue at him.)
She also said it is only the public who should decide if a person is “worthy” to run for government office, citing the high court’s decision on the FPJ case. (READ: Grace Poe: People will be witnesses, judges in disqualification case)
“Haharapin naman natin ito sapagkat, alam 'nyo, ang mga tao lang naman po ang dapat makapagdesisyon kung ikaw ay karapat dapat o hindi, 'yan ay pinatunayan din ng desisyon kay FPJ noon ng mga Supreme Court justices na tao ang magdedesisyon,” she said.
(We will face this because only the people have the right to decide if you are worthy or not. That was proven by the Supreme Court justices in the FPJ case.)
The presidential polls front runner said she wants the disqualification case expedited. After all, she said the longer the time spent in a case, the higher the chances of “losing justice.”
Asked if she has trust in the tribunal members, Poe said she is hoping that they would be fair and just in dealing with her case. (READ: Do you know the SET that will decide Grace Poe's fate?)
“Kump'yansa [ako] sa kanilang kakayanan at dasal ko lamang na ang kanilang konsensya ay di madidiktahan ninoman,” Poe said. (I am confident in their abilities. I only pray that their conscience could not be dictated on by anyone.)
Poe said her determination to defend herself is not a political move, even as she is widely believed to be eyeing the presidency in 2016.
“Sinasabi nila dahil sa eleksyon, hindi po, ito po'y laban ng marami sa atin dito sa bansa na nakakaranas din nito na di rin matukoy ang kanilang magulang ngunit pinalaki naman nang maayos at marangal ng nagmamahal sa kanila,” Poe said.
(They say this is about the election, it’s not. This is also the battle of many in this country who experience the same thing – unable to identify their parents but were raised properly by those who love them.) – Rappler.com
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