THE 1987 Constitution defines natural-born citizens as those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their citizenship.

Although it was not of her own doing, questions about Sen. Grace Poe’s real citizenship is like a bad dream that keeps haunting her. In fact, it was a recurring nightmare. 

Now that talks are rife that there is a huge likelihood that Poe could take a stab at the 2016 presidency, her citizenship has become yet again a hotly contested issue.

But then again, it is good that the issue on her dubious citizenship and also her questionable residency status are being brought up this early.

Simply because just the thought that we might be electing a foreigner to the highest post of the land in next year’s national elections is totally revolting to say the least.

Having an alien rule us in the next six years is totally incomprehensible and a big insult to us Filipinos, this is not to mention that we could become the laughing stock of the international community.



Even the fiery Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has recently came out to openly declare that he will not support Poe’s presidential bid because there is a big possibility that she could not pass the "natural-born Filipino citizen" requirement of the Constitution.

As well know, Duterte, was a government prosecutor for several years before joining politics, and he knows his law when he said that the Constitution specifically states that the President must be a natural born Filipino citizen.

Duterte shares the fears of many nationalistic Filipinos that if Poe would eventually win, the Philippines just might have an American president and an American first family at that.



But Poe’s supporters were unanimous in declaring that she already acquired all the requirements needed for her to be declared as a natural born Filipino even as she was known to be a foundling. 

Her supporters are mostly quoting an article written recently at the Philippine Daily Inquirer by retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban who opined that “under Art. 2 of the 1961 International Convention on Statelessness, “[a] foundling found in the territory of a Contracting State shall, in the absence of proof to the contrary, be considered to have been born within the territory of parents possessing the nationality of that State.”

He argued that applying that article to Poe, a foundling found in the Philippines is presumed, in the absence of contrary proof, to have Filipino biological parents. 

Since she was found near a church in Jaro, Iloilo, when she was only a few days old, her parents are presumed to be Filipinos. Therefore, she is a natural-born citizen.

There is one problem though in the said treaty from where Panganiban banked his argument. 

Legal pundits were quick to point out that the Philippines is not a signatory or a “contracting state” in the treaty cited by Panganiban, hence, there should be legal questions on its applicability to existing laws in the Philippines. 

Also, legal experts argued that the treaty does not apply to Poe who was born in 1967 while the UN Convention only took effect in 1975.

Likewise, they noted that a Department of Justice 2012 circular on refugees and stateless status determination procedure does not contain provisions on the citizenship of stateless persons.

One other thing that confounds Poe’s case is her decision to acquire American citizenship after marrying her American husband. 

While she claims that she already renounced her American citizenship, questions about her genuine fidelity to our country and our Constitution will continue to haunt her.

She should explain clearly why at one point in her life, she decided to dump her Filipino citizenship in favor of another. 



It was Panganiban himself who admitted in his article that the SC has already ruled several times that adoption does not confer citizenship. 

Instead, it only gives the adopted child the civil rights of a legitimate child, like the right to use the surname of and to inherit from the adoptive parents.

In as much as Poe was a foundling, her biological parents could not be ascertained whether they were real Filipinos or not, thus, questions about her natural-born citizenship could not be rested.

Being a foundling, her parents are not known and cannot be presumed as Filipino citizens hence she cannot claim or acquire the status of a natural-born citizen.

One thing more, official records show that Poe became an American citizen in 2001 and reacquired only her Filipino citizenship 2006 following the death of her father, former actor Fernando Poe Jr.



It seems like it’s the case of “when it rains, it pours” for Sen. Poe.

This came after Rizalito David, a losing two-time senatorial bet of Ang Kapatiran party filed a quo warranto petition against her before the Senate Electoral Tribunal on Thursday on the same argument that she was not a natural-born Filipino.

A quo warranto petition is a challenge to someone’s right to hold a certain office or position, thus David wanted to unseat Poe from her current Senate post.

David’s beef against Grace came a day after news reports circulated that she was allegedly a drunkard, a maid-beater and used to be a drug addict and was even admitted to a drug rehabilitation center in the United States several years ago.

While she could barely dismiss the allegations against her as mere fabrications and are politically motivated, still she should come up with satisfactory and convincing explanations on these claims.

As we Filipinos love to put it, “when there is smoke, there is fire” (kapag may usok, may apoy), which practically means that these rumors would not come out if there was no truth on them.    

She has yet to decide whether or not to run in 2016 although she is the voters’ preferred top choice based on the latest pre-election surveys.



While many political observers admit that Poe is a real threat against the ambitions of other presidential wannabes, it is her responsibility to erase any doubt on her real citizenship before she even thinks of running for president next year.

The issue of subscribing to what is required by the Constitution for those seeking to be president is of paramount importance, in as much as it is the same Constitution that she would swear to uphold and defend in the event that she is elected into office.

In short, she should first come clean and must refrain from doing a Binay who loves to evade issues against him by dismissing them as just politically motivated.

Filipinos have long been deprived of clean, honest and dedicated leaders and if she thinks that she could fit the bill, then by all means she could run, but only after she cleared herself of that allegations that she was not a natural born Filipino and also an alien.

Our country is now on the crossroads of history and the people certainly deserve only the best leaders that could hopefully guide them to greater heights and economic prosperity in the coming years.

But if Poe could not settle her personal issues , then she does not deserve to be at the helm of country’s leadership, lest she would find herself living her dreams of becoming a president while also living a nightmare at the same time.

To paraphrase Aleksandar Hemon “her nightmares (of being a foundling and not a natural-born Filipino ) will follow her like a shadow, forever ”.

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Wednesday, 21 March 2018
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