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 http://newsflash.org | APEC NOVEMBER 18 -19, 2015


PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

GRACE WINS 5-4, SENATE TRIBUNAL (SET) CASE; NEXT HURDLE, THE PRESIDENTIAL DQ

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NOVEMBER 18 -In this Sept. 17, 2015 file photo, Sen. Grace Poe greets supporters as she announced her intent to run for president in 2016. On Tuesday, Poe thanked the nine-member electorial tribunal for junking the disqualification case against her. Philstar.com / Efigenio Toledo IV, file  With a vote of 5-4, the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) junked yesterday the petition to disqualify Sen. Grace Poe in the 2013 senatorial race over her citizenship. The SET, composed of six senators and three Supreme Court (SC) justices, upheld that Poe, a foundling, is a natural-born Filipino and eligible to keep her Senate seat. Except for Sen. Nancy Binay, five other senator-members of the SET voted to dismiss the petition filed by losing senatorial candidate Rizalito David in the 2013 midterm polls. They were Sens. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Pia Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Vicente Sotto III and Cynthia Villar. SET chairman and Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and Arturo Brion voted to disqualify Poe, along with Binay. In upholding David’s petition, the SC justices said Poe is not a natural-born Filipino. They believed that as a foundling, Poe needed to establish the Filipino citizenship of either of her biological parents to be able to establish that she is a natural-born Filipino as required by the Constitution. Since Poe has not yet found her real parents after conducting DNA tests on probable relatives, the SC justices said she remains to be a naturalized Filipino. Victory for foundlings Poe lauded the SET decision, saying it is a victory for all foundlings in the Philippines. She said it’s a good start for her amid the pending disqualification cases filed against her before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to stop her from seeking the presidency in 2016. She remains hopeful that the other disqualification cases against her will be dismissed. Poe thanked her colleagues for recognizing the votes of the Filipino people who voted her into office in 2013. Poe refused to comment on Senator Binay, whose father, Vice President Jejomar Binay, is running against her in the 2016 elections. For her part, Binay she said she sided with the three SC justices based on the Constitution and the evidence presented. READ MORE...

ALSO: Senators explain votes on Grace Poe's disqualification case


NOVEMBER 18 -NO UNANIMOUS VOTE. Of the 6 senators in the Senate Electoral Tribunal, only Senator Nancy Binay votes to disqualify Grace Poe as senator of the Philippines. Rappler file photos
Calm, short, and friendly. This is how Senator Loren Legarda described the meeting of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) on Tuesday, November 17, at Manila Polo Club in Makati City. There were neither debates nor long-winded discussions. More than an hour past noon, when all 9 members of the tribunal had arrived at the venue, Senior Justice Antonio Carpio asked two questions:
"Who are those...in favor of granting the petition?" Legarda said, quoting Carpio. To this question, 4 raised their hands: Carpio, Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Associate Justice Arturo Brion, and Senator Nancy Binay. Legarda added: "Who are those not in favor of granting the petition? The 5 of us raised our hands. It's that simple. And then we said goodbye." The majority includes Legarda and her fellow senators Pia Cayetano, Cynthia Villar, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, and Vicente Sotto III. (READ: Senate Tribunal denies disqualification case vs Poe) The decision comes months after losing senatorial candidate Rizalito David filed a petition before the SET seeking the disqualification of Poe as senator. David argued that since Poe is a foundling, there is a possibility she is not a natural-born Filipino and should have been disqualified as senator. David's lawyer Manuelito Luna said they will file a motion for reconsideration before the tribunal on Monday, November 23, after which, SET members will convene again to vote on this motion. READ MORE...

ALSO ON SET DECISION: Senators hit back at critics on raps of political decision


NOVEMBER 20 -Petitioner Rizalito David
Irked by public criticisms and charges of the five senator-judges having decided to dismiss the petition lodged before the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) disqualifying their colleague, Sen. Grace Poe, and went on to declare her a natural born citizen without legal and constitutional basis, at least two senator-judges hit back at their critics, calling the charges insulting and baseless. They blasted petitioner Rizalito David who was vocal over the ruling, which he said that the decision of the five senator-judges clearly smacks of a political accommodation to save Poe from losing her Senate seat and was not based on legal merits.
Opposition Sen. Vicente Sotto III and administration Sen. Bam Aquino, a presidential cousin, debunked these criticisms, underscoring that in considering their decision, they took note not only of the issue confronting their colleague but the foundlings in general. “Ask them (David) if the SET is a political institution or not. If the SET is not a political institution, then let us change the Constitution that says the SET is comprised of six senators and change this to appoint instead persons who are not elected,” Sotto said in a text message to reporters. The SET is constitutionally mandated to perform the specific function of determining whether a candidate has in fact complied with the constitutional requirement and statutory requirement to run for public office. Sotto has emphasized that the SET has the sole authority on issues concerning senators and the upper chamber. However, the SET is not the sole authority on such issues, and its decision can be reviewed by the Supreme Court, which has already stated in previous rulings that the congressional electoral tribunals must decide on the basis of judicial integrity and not on the basis of politics. But Senator Aquino tried to justify his claim that his vote was not influenced at all. “In my case, the political move would have been to disqualify Poe because I am with the Liberal Party and supporting (administration presidential candidate) former Secretary (Manuel “Mar”) Roxas. For me, this decision was beyond politics and to an extent, beyond Poe,” he said.. READ MORE...

ALSO Duterte filing for Presidential run: Poe ruling prompted me to run -Duterte
[BRING IT ON, SENATOR TELLS DAVAO MAYOR; At least 3,000 people joined the gathering called “Rock for Federalism,” referring to Duterte’s advocacy of a federal system of government. The rally started at 1 p.m. and Paul Melendez, provincial information officer for the Duterte for President Movement, said it would run up to 10 p.m., with more people expected to come. With reports from Tina G. Santos in Manila; Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao; and Jhunnex Napallacan and Carmel Loise Matus, Inquirer Visayas]


NOVEMBER 23 --ESCORTED by motorcycle policemen, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte arrives at a private party in Dasmariñas, Cavite province, on Saturday night to announce that he would run for President in the 2016 elections. LYN RILLON
 DASMARIÑAS, Cavite—Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday night said the decision of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) to junk the disqualification case against Sen. Grace Poe pushed him to change his mind and run for President in next year’s general elections. Duterte said Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano would be his running mate. Poe welcomed Duterte’s decision, but Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. doubted that Duterte could run because the presidential candidate of his party whom he intended to replace had already withdrawn from the race.Dropping his strategy of ambivalence about a run for Malacañang that had put him high in the polls, Duterte, speaking at the birthday party of a friend here, declared his presidential candidacy was “now on the table.” “I am running for President because I am so disappointed with the ruling of the Senate Electoral Tribunal,” Duterte said, drawing applause from former schoolmates, friends and supporters. Voting 5-4 last week, the SET threw out a petition for Poe’s ouster from the Senate that had been brought by a 2013 senatorial race loser on grounds of citizenship. “I cannot accept an American President,” Duterte said, referring to Poe, who renounced her US citizenship to be able to serve in the government under the Aquino administration in 2010. ‘It’s on the table’ Asked by reporters if he would run, Duterte replied: “Yes, I will run. But it is on the table.” He explained that he had to speak with the leaders of his party, Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), about it. Duterte’s ambivalence about running for President made PDP-Laban field a former village official from Quezon City, Martin Diño, at the close of candidate registration in June. The party, however, had until Dec. 10 to change candidates and had been expected to announce a switch to Duterte even before Diño pulled out of the race because the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was poised to declare him a nuisance candidate. Uncertainty Diño’s withdrawal left PDP-Laban in limbo, according to Belmonte. READ MORE... RELATED,
Duterte slams SET decision, stands with SC justices also, Duterte waiting for final ruling on Poe DQ ...

ALSO: ‘Poe failed to prove she’s natural-born’


NOVEMBER 21 -Justice Carpio unconvinced Poe is a natural-born Pinoy.
“There is no dispute that respondent Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares is a Filipino citizen, as she publicly claims to be. However, she has failed to prove that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen and is thus not qualified to sit as Member of the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines pursuant to Section 3, Article VI of the 1987 Contitution.” This was the opening statement in the 35-page dissenting opinion of Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on the disqualification case filed against the senator with the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET). The SET on Saturday released digital copies of the separate dissenting opinion of three justice-members in the nine-man tribunal that heard the case filed by radio commentator Rizalito David. Carpio, chairman of the SET, along with Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, and Arturo Brion voted to disqualify Poe to continue sitting in the Senate after they found legal merit on David’s petition. David, who lost in the 2013 senatorial elections topped by Poe, questioned her citizenship. He argued that being a foundling with no known biological parents, the 47-year-old Poe is not a natural-born citizen because she cannot show a blood relation to a Filipino father or mother and thereby disqualified from running for senator. The SET, which voted 5-4 to dismiss the quo warranto petition also counted Sen. Nancy Binay as among those who dissented from the majority. Among the SET members who voted to keep Poe in the Senate were: Senators Vicente Sotto 3rd, Pia Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Cynthia Villar, and Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th. In their dissenting opinion, the justices declared, “[Poe] is not a natural-born Filipino citizen.” “There is no Philippine law [that] automatically conferring Philippine citizenship to a foundling at birth. Even if there were, such law would only result in the foundling being a naturalized Filipino citizen, not a natural-born Filipino citizen,” Carpio’s opinion on the issue, read. READ MORE...

ALSO IT’S OFFICIAL: Duterte, Cayetano team up for 2016


NOVEMBER 23 --Vice presidential contender Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano bows to his guest, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, during the senator’s 45th birthday party in Taguig City. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/RICHARD A. REYES
DASMARIÑAS, Cavite—The tough-talking Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte might run for the presidency after all. Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano confirmed to the Inquirer on Saturday night that it is a Duterte-Cayetano tandem for the 2016 elections. In a phone interview on Saturday night, Cayetano said: “Yes, he will not allow the Constitution to be disregarded and it’s just a matter of talking to the PDP-Laban and setting everything in motion.”
Duterte, who had just come from Iloilo, made the bold announcement when asked by reporters in an ambush interview.“When he got here (in Cavite), he said that—he’s now open to a presidential run,” said the Senate majority leader. “My candidacy for the presidency is now on the table,” Duterte said at a birthday celebration of his law school classmate here in Dasmariñas on Saturday night. It was yet the strongest statement the reluctant candidate said on his on-and-off presidential intentions.
Duterte in a speech that lasted for about 30 minutes said what changed his mind was the recent decision of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) throwing the disqualification case questioning the citizenship of Sen. Grace Poe who has been accused of not being a natural-born citizen. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Grace wins SET case; next hurdle presidential DQ


NOVEMBER 18 -In this Sept. 17, 2015 file photo, Sen. Grace Poe greets supporters as she announced her intent to run for president in 2016. On Tuesday, Poe thanked the nine-member electorial tribunal for junking the disqualification case against her. Philstar.com / Efigenio Toledo IV, file

MANILA, NOVEMBER 23, 2015 (PHILSTAR) By Marvin Sy and Christina Mendez - With a vote of 5-4, the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) junked yesterday the petition to disqualify Sen. Grace Poe in the 2013 senatorial race over her citizenship.

The SET, composed of six senators and three Supreme Court (SC) justices, upheld that Poe, a foundling, is a natural-born Filipino and eligible to keep her Senate seat.

Except for Sen. Nancy Binay, five other senator-members of the SET voted to dismiss the petition filed by losing senatorial candidate Rizalito David in the 2013 midterm polls.

They were Sens. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Pia Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Vicente Sotto III and Cynthia Villar.

SET chairman and Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and Arturo Brion voted to disqualify Poe, along with Binay.

In upholding David’s petition, the SC justices said Poe is not a natural-born Filipino.

They believed that as a foundling, Poe needed to establish the Filipino citizenship of either of her biological parents to be able to establish that she is a natural-born Filipino as required by the Constitution.

Since Poe has not yet found her real parents after conducting DNA tests on probable relatives, the SC justices said she remains to be a naturalized Filipino.

Victory for foundlings Poe lauded the SET decision, saying it is a victory for all foundlings in the Philippines.

She said it’s a good start for her amid the pending disqualification cases filed against her before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to stop her from seeking the presidency in 2016.

She remains hopeful that the other disqualification cases against her will be dismissed.

Poe thanked her colleagues for recognizing the votes of the Filipino people who voted her into office in 2013.

Poe refused to comment on Senator Binay, whose father, Vice President Jejomar Binay, is running against her in the 2016 elections.

For her part, Binay she said she sided with the three SC justices based on the Constitution and the evidence presented.

READ MORE...

She said her decision favoring David’s petition had nothing to do with politics.

David to run to SC David said he would question the SET ruling before the high tribunal.

“I will file a petition for certiorari before the SC next week,” he said.

David said the camp of Poe should not rejoice yet since three SC justices ruled in favor of his petition.

“The decision of the five senators smacked of political accommodation,” he said.

Poe’s lawyer George Garcia welcomed David’s decision to seek SC relief, saying the high court would be in a better position to interpret the provisions of the Constitution.

Poe’s allies in the House of Representatives were happy over the SET ruling.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. congratulated Poe for hurdling the disqualification case filed against her before the SET. – With Edu Punay, Paolo Romero, Helen Flores, Sheila Crisostomo, Robertzon Ramirez


RAPPLER.COM

Senators explain votes on Grace Poe's disqualification case Jee Y. Geronimo @jeegeronimo Published 11:45 AM, November 18, 2015 Updated 6:22 PM, November 18, 2015

The 6 senators outnumber the 3 SC justices in the Senate Electoral Tribunal, but their vote is not unanimous


NO UNANIMOUS VOTE. Of the 6 senators in the Senate Electoral Tribunal, only Senator Nancy Binay votes to disqualify Grace Poe as senator of the Philippines. Rappler file photos

MANILA, Philippines – Calm, short, and friendly. This is how Senator Loren Legarda described the meeting of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) on Tuesday, November 17, at Manila Polo Club in Makati City.

There were neither debates nor long-winded discussions. More than an hour past noon, when all 9 members of the tribunal had arrived at the venue, Senior Justice Antonio Carpio asked two questions:

"Who are those...in favor of granting the petition?" Legarda said, quoting Carpio. To this question, 4 raised their hands: Carpio, Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Associate Justice Arturo Brion, and Senator Nancy Binay.

Legarda added: "Who are those not in favor of granting the petition? The 5 of us raised our hands. It's that simple. And then we said goodbye."

The majority includes Legarda and her fellow senators Pia Cayetano, Cynthia Villar, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, and Vicente Sotto III. (READ: Senate Tribunal denies disqualification case vs Poe)

The decision comes months after losing senatorial candidate Rizalito David filed a petition before the SET seeking the disqualification of Poe as senator.

David argued that since Poe is a foundling, there is a possibility she is not a natural-born Filipino and should have been disqualified as senator.

David's lawyer Manuelito Luna said they will file a motion for reconsideration before the tribunal on Monday, November 23, after which, SET members will convene again to vote on this motion.

READ MORE...

They aim to come up with a final decision on the case before the printing of ballots in December.

Impact

The final decision will impact on Poe's presidential bid in the 2016 elections. To date, the presidential poll frontrunner is already facing 4 disqualification cases before the Commission on Elections (Comelec), with 3 of the petitioners questioning Poe's natural-born citizenship.

The Constitution of the Philippines requires that those elected as president, vice president, senator, and congressmen be natural-born citizens. Candidates for local posts can be naturalized citizens.

The poll body will likewise decide soon on a separate citizenship case against Poe that was also filed by David. SET sources explained the Comelec may follow the SET decision on the citizenship issue, which would benefit Poe and clear one major obstacle to her presidential candidacy.

The Comelec will still have to decide on the question of whether Poe has met the residency requirement for senatorial candidates, which was not an issue in the SET case.

No unanimous vote

The senators outnumber the SC justices in the tribunal, 6 to 3, but the lawmakers did not vote unanimously on Tuesday.

"I decided to vote with the justices of the Supreme Court based on the Constitution and the evidence presented," Binay said in a statement Tuesday. She is the only senator who voted to disqualify Poe, one of her father's rivals in the 2016 presidential elections.

But Binay reiterated her vote had nothing to do with Vice President Jejomar Binay, or the presidential elections.

"This is about the provisions of the Constitution which each and every Filipino must uphold. As a senator of the country who was elected and entrusted by the Filipino people to uphold the law, I must make a decision based on the provisions of the Constitution. More than anyone else, a senator of the land must respect the Constitution," she said.

The rest of the senators voted to dismiss David's case. Sotto said they voted in favor of Poe as a recognition of the rights of an adopted child.

"I voted for all the orphans, foundlings, and adopted children in the Philippines. It was not a vote for Grace Poe. A disqualification vote would have serious repercussions on many of our countrymen," Sotto said in a text message to Rappler.

Sotto is seeking re-election under Poe's independent party. A member of the Nationalist People's Coalition, he was a strong supporter – along with Senator Francis Escudero – of Grace Poe's father, Fernando Poe Jr, when the movie actor ran for president in 2004.

Legarda, for her part, explained that the 5 senators recognize that Poe, as a foundling, is a natural-born Filipino. She, however, assured the public that she studied the facts well and even wrote her own opinion on the case.

"I think this will have both legal and political implications, and the most important...I think this will have a great implication on foundlings. This issue goes beyond Grace Poe. Ito ay makahulugan sa mga ampon na hindi alam ang kanilang pinanggalingan," she added.

(This is important for adopted children who do not know their place of origin.)

Presumption of regularity

Meanwhile, in a 3-page opinion, Aquino said "logic dictates" foundlings are neither naturalized nor stateless, but natural-born Filipinos.

"Foundlings are among the most vulnerable to statelessness and discrimination. Social justice dictates the State should be the first to recognize and ensure that foundlings are able to enjoy each and every right accorded them."

For him, until the petitioner presents evidence that Poe's parents are not Filipinos, the presumption of regularity should prevail.

"With the respondent currently unable to submit the results of the DNA tests to prove that she is indeed a natural-born citizen, the presumption of regularity and the presumption of the utmost best for those who have least in life should be upheld and maintained."

Cayetano refused to give comments for now. She said the case is still "pending," since David's camp has the right to appeal.

"But I have a separate opinion explaining my vote which will be made available to the public soon," she said in a text message to reporters.

Villar has yet to give her comment as of this posting.

In his statement sent to reporters, Luna cited an old case – Lerias vs Mercado – in which the SC warned politicians who are members of electoral tribunals to "resolve each controversy with judicial, not political, integrity."

"Because of the Lerias doctrine, which position the justices took will be crucial for a reversal by the SC. That's what we should look at," he said. – Rappler.com


TRIBUNE

Senators hit back at critics on raps of political decision
Written by Angie M. Rosales Friday, 20 November 2015 00:00


petitioner Rizalito David

Irked by public criticisms and charges of the five senator-judges having decided to dismiss the petition lodged before the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) disqualifying their colleague, Sen. Grace Poe, and went on to declare her a natural born citizen without legal and constitutional basis, at least two senator-judges hit back at their critics, calling the charges insulting and baseless.

They blasted petitioner Rizalito David who was vocal over the ruling, which he said that the decision of the five senator-judges clearly smacks of a political accommodation to save Poe from losing her Senate seat and was not based on legal merits.

Opposition Sen. Vicente Sotto III and administration Sen. Bam Aquino, a presidential cousin, debunked these criticisms, underscoring that in considering their decision, they took note not only of the issue confronting their colleague but the foundlings in general.

“Ask them (David) if the SET is a political institution or not. If the SET is not a political institution, then let us change the Constitution that says the SET is comprised of six senators and change this to appoint instead persons who are not elected,” Sotto said in a text message to reporters.

The SET is constitutionally mandated to perform the specific function of determining whether a candidate has in fact complied with the constitutional requirement and statutory requirement to run for public office.

Sotto has emphasized that the SET has the sole authority on issues concerning senators and the upper chamber.

However, the SET is not the sole authority on such issues, and its decision can be reviewed by the Supreme Court, which has already stated in previous rulings that the congressional electoral tribunals must decide on the basis of judicial integrity and not on the basis of politics.

But Senator Aquino tried to justify his claim that his vote was not influenced at all.

“In my case, the political move would have been to disqualify Poe because I am with the Liberal Party and supporting (administration presidential candidate) former Secretary (Manuel “Mar”) Roxas. For me, this decision was beyond politics and to an extent, beyond Poe,” he said.

READ MORE...

He quickly absolved the Liberal Party of having tried to influence his vote. Speculation however, is rife that Aquino absolved the LP to stop the talk of the LP working to have her disqualified.

“The only issue that we tackled was whether foundlings are natural born citizens or not.

What weighed heaviest for me was that an adverse decision would have a negative effect on the thousands of foundlings in our country, stripping them of rights and privileges they already were enjoying. And surely, we shouldn’t marginalize the already marginalized.

“My decision was based on the records of the 1935 Constitution, other international treaties that we have followed as well as my principles and conscience,” he stressed.

The senator was referring to the deliberations of the 1934 Constitutional Convention on citizenship that there was a recognition that children or people born in a country of unknown parents are citizens of the nation and the only reason that there was no specific reference to foundlings in the 1935 Constitution was that foundlings are few and far in between so that it is not necessary to include a provision on the subject exclusively.

Aquino failed to point out that precisely, this proposal was not included, and was not therefore part of the provisions in the Charter since this was not voted upon nor approved.

Poe’s designated spokesman, Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian likewise lashed back at the defeated petitioner.

“David’s statement is insulting the wisdom and principles of the majority members of the SET. How can it be a political accommodation when the five who voted to dismiss come from different political parties? They crossed political party lines and voted to uphold the rights of foundlings, not just of Poe,” he said.

Besides Sotto and Sen. Aquino, Senators Cynthia Villar, Loren Legarda and Pia Cayetano also voted in favor of Poe.

“They voted to dismiss because international laws and regimes that are adopted into our own laws state that foundlings are natural born Filipinos. David should stop sour-graping and just accept the decision of the SET,” said Gatchalian.

For complainant Rizalito David’s camp, the 5 senators who voted favoring Poe in the SET lack understanding of basic jurisprudence and common sense.

David’s lawyer Manny Luna said that aside from the “obvious political implications”, the majority senators “instead of the laws, (they implicitly voted with) their unwarranted fear of repercussions to other foundlings of a decision removing her from the Senate”.

“Their manner of voting reflects their lack of basic understanding of the fundamentals of Philippine constitutionalism and even common sense,” Luna said in a text message.

The senators’ postulate that international law prevails over the 1935 Constitution in case of conflict — as well as the take that Article 4 of the 1935 Constitution did not exclude foundlings from the categories of citizens — is “strange and unheard of,” he said.

Surely, such mentality is mind boggling and has no place in this jurisdiction or elsewhere. It’s simply out this world,” Luna stressed.
With Ted Tuvera


MANILA TIMES DISSENTING OPINION

‘Poe failed to prove she’s natural-born’ November 21, 2015 9:57 pm
by MICHAEL JOE T. DELIZO, REPORTER


Justice Carpio unconvinced Poe is a natural-born Pinoy.

“There is no dispute that respondent Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares is a Filipino citizen, as she publicly claims to be. However, she has failed to prove that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen and is thus not qualified to sit as Member of the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines pursuant to Section 3, Article VI of the 1987 Contitution.”

This was the opening statement in the 35-page dissenting opinion of Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on the disqualification case filed against the senator with the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET).

The SET on Saturday released digital copies of the separate dissenting opinion of three justice-members in the nine-man tribunal that heard the case filed by radio commentator Rizalito David.

Carpio, chairman of the SET, along with Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, and Arturo Brion voted to disqualify Poe to continue sitting in the Senate after they found legal merit on David’s petition. David, who lost in the 2013 senatorial elections topped by Poe, questioned her citizenship. He argued that being a foundling with no known biological parents, the 47-year-old Poe is not a natural-born citizen because she cannot show a blood relation to a Filipino father or mother and thereby disqualified from running for senator.

The SET, which voted 5-4 to dismiss the quo warranto petition also counted Sen. Nancy Binay as among those who dissented from the majority.

Among the SET members who voted to keep Poe in the Senate were: Senators Vicente Sotto 3rd, Pia Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Cynthia Villar, and Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th.

In their dissenting opinion, the justices declared, “[Poe] is not a natural-born Filipino citizen.”

“There is no Philippine law [that] automatically conferring Philippine citizenship to a foundling at birth. Even if there were, such law would only result in the foundling being a naturalized Filipino citizen, not a natural-born Filipino citizen,” Carpio’s opinion on the issue, read.

READ MORE...

Carpio said there is no legal presumption in favor of the Philippine citizenship whether natural-born or naturalized.

“There is no treaty, customary international law or a general principle of international law granting automatically Philippine citizenship to a foundling at birth.

“[Even if there is a customary international law, it]…cannot prevail over our Constitution…[which] identifies natural-born Filipino citizens as only those whose [parents] are Filipino citizens; [Poe] failed to discharge her burden to proof that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen; a foundling has to…prove his or her status as foundling to acquire Philippine citizenship,” Carpio said.

De Castro, for her part, urged that the tribunal uphold the 1987 Constitution and “not bow to any other rule…”

Brion meanwhile stressed that the 1987 Constitution provides clear language that “no person shall be a senator unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines…”

The Constitution, he added, defined who natural-born citizens are.

Noting that “citizenship is not automatically conferred under the international conventions,” de Castro proposed that lawmakers should enact a law by which citizenship can be acquired.


INQUIRER

Duterte: Poe ruling prompted me to run SHARES: 138 VIEW COMMENTS By: Christine O. Avendaño, DJ Yap, Niña P. Calleja @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:04 AM November 23rd, 2015


ESCORTED by motorcycle policemen, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte arrives at a private party in Dasmariñas, Cavite province, on Saturday night to announce that he would run for President in the 2016 elections. LYN RILLON

BRING IT ON, SENATOR TELLS DAVAO MAYOR

DASMARIÑAS, Cavite—Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday night said the decision of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) to junk the disqualification case against Sen. Grace Poe pushed him to change his mind and run for President in next year’s general elections.

Duterte said Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano would be his running mate. Poe welcomed Duterte’s decision, but Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. doubted that Duterte could run because the presidential candidate of his party whom he intended to replace had already withdrawn from the race.

Dropping his strategy of ambivalence about a run for Malacañang that had put him high in the polls, Duterte, speaking at the birthday party of a friend here, declared his presidential candidacy was “now on the table.”

“I am running for President because I am so disappointed with the ruling of the Senate Electoral Tribunal,” Duterte said, drawing applause from former schoolmates, friends and supporters. Voting 5-4 last week, the SET threw out a petition for Poe’s ouster from the Senate that had been brought by a 2013 senatorial race loser on grounds of citizenship.

“I cannot accept an American President,” Duterte said, referring to Poe, who renounced her US citizenship to be able to serve in the government under the Aquino administration in 2010.

‘It’s on the table’

Asked by reporters if he would run, Duterte replied: “Yes, I will run.

But it is on the table.” He explained that he had to speak with the leaders of his party, Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), about it. Duterte’s ambivalence about running for President made PDP-Laban field a former village official from Quezon City, Martin Diño, at the close of candidate registration in June.

The party, however, had until Dec. 10 to change candidates and had been expected to announce a switch to Duterte even before Diño pulled out of the race because the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was poised to declare him a nuisance candidate.

Uncertainty

Diño’s withdrawal left PDP-Laban in limbo, according to Belmonte.

READ MORE...

As Diño had already withdrawn, “what’s there to replace?” Belmonte said on Sunday. The Speaker said he doubted the Comelec would allow Duterte to run.

But Belmonte praised Duterte for deciding to run for President. “He stands for something,” Belmonte said, citing Duterte’s tough enforcement of the law in Davao City.

PDP-Laban goes all-out

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, president of PDP-Laban, said the party would now go all-out for Duterte after the Davao mayor had declared his candidacy.

“He is a phenomenon. We have a candidate who is strong and a potential winner,” Pimentel said. He said he would sign the party’s certificate of nomination for Duterte today, adding that he hoped Duterte would file his certificate of candidacy before Dec. 10.

Comelec study

The Comelec said it would study whether Duterte could run as substitute for Diño.

“The Comelec will study the matter if and when an actual substitution takes place,” said Comelec Chair Andres Bautista. “[It’s] best for us to wait for the law department’s action, [as] it will be the one [to deal with] that,” he said.

Poe’s camp said it welcomed Duterte’s decision to run even if it did not agree with the Davao mayor’s stand on the question of the senator’s citizenship. “The more choices the people have, the better,” said Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian, Poe’s spokesperson.

“Though we are saddened and do not agree with the position of Mayor Duterte on Senator Poe’s citizenship and the status of [abandoned children], his decision to seek the presidency will make our democracy stronger and more vibrant,” Gatchalian said in a statement.

Not as welcoming was Poe’s running mate, Sen. Francis Escudero, who disagreed with Duterte’s view of Poe as not a natural-born Filipino because her biological parents were unknown.

Excuse to run

Poe was abandoned in a church after birth and was adopted three years later by movie actor Fernando Poe Jr. and his wife, movie actress Susan Roces.

“Mayor Duterte does not need to hiss at Senator [Poe] and use the decision of the SET in her favor as an excuse to run,” Escudero said in a statement.

“In fact, quite the contrary, an unfavorable decision against Senator [Poe] could have been a putatively better excuse according to analysts,” he said. Escudero reminded Duterte that the SET disagreed with his view and did justice to Poe and all other abandoned children. “As the saying goes, those who have less in life should have more in law,” he said.

OK with Binay

Vice President Jejomar Binay, running second to Poe in the presidential surveys, last night welcomed Duterte’s decision to run.

“This would give our voters more choices in 2016,” Binay’s spokesperson Rico Quicho said in a text message.

Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, spokesperson for the ruling Liberal Party (LP), said he believed Duterte decided to run because he expected the Supreme Court to rule against Poe on appeal.

“I think Mayor Digong believes that Senator Poe will eventually be disqualified. It’s almost a writing on the wall, and I think that he thinks he [has] a chance of winning without Senator Poe,” Erice said, using Duterte’s nickname.

Citizenship

Erice noted that the three Supreme Court justices on the SET—Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Arturo Brion and Antonio Carpio—voted against Poe and their opinion could help turn the senator’s victory into defeat when the case went up to the high court. Duterte said he thought Poe was “beautiful” and “good, cultured” and “has money.”

“But you don’t [stir up] emotion among the Filipinos just because you are a foundling.

[That] is not good,” he said. “When she gets disqualified because she is found to be American, what will happen to us?” he said. He said Poe’s Filipino citizenship was based on presumption. “Grace can run for governor or mayor, but not for [President].

Give me an Igorot, a Bagobo, as long as he or she is Filipino,” he said.

Loose alliance

Duterte said he had chosen Cayetano as his running mate because the senator had been with him from the start and helped him “put up the propaganda.”

“This is a loose alliance,” Duterte said, noting that Cayetano is a member of the Nacionalista Party. Sought for comment, Cayetano said: “I am speechless. Glory to God!”

Cayetano said that with Duterte in the race, the election would be easier for voters. “Your choices are simple. You have a natural-born thief, a natural-born incompetent leader, and a natural-born who has a heart and courage,” he said.

Sara for Davao mayor

Duterte said his daughter, Sara, may take his place as candidate for mayor of Davao City. He said Sara also registered as mayoral candidate in June. On his Sunday television program, Duterte challenged Poe to show him her Filipino mother and he would withdraw from the presidential race. “I will no longer run. I’ll be her campaign manager,” Duterte said.

Asked by his cohost, Geraldine Tiu, if his decision was final this time, Duterte replied, “Yes.” But he teased his viewers again, saying: “That was just for her, because she wanted me to say it.”

Supporters

Duterte’s supporters celebrated his decision, beginning with a gathering on the soccer field on the University of the Philippines campus in Cebu City on Sunday.

At least 3,000 people joined the gathering called “Rock for Federalism,” referring to Duterte’s advocacy of a federal system of government. The rally started at 1 p.m. and Paul Melendez, provincial information officer for the Duterte for President Movement, said it would run up to 10 p.m., with more people expected to come. With reports from Tina G. Santos in Manila; Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao; and Jhunnex Napallacan and Carmel Loise Matus, Inquirer Visayas

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RELATED FROM THE TRIBUNE

Duterte slams SET decision, stands with SC justices
Written by Tribune Wires Saturday, 21 November 2015 00:00 By Ted Tuvera and Angie M. Rosales


DUTERTE

Disappointed at 5 senators for unconstitutional ‘partisan’ vote

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, a lawyer, yesterday in Davao City, slammed the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) majority decision, expressing disappointment at the five senators who had voted against the Quo Warranto case and declaring Sen. Grace Poe a natural-born Filipino citizen, without any basis in law or the Constitution, and despite her failure to prove, through DNA, that she has Filipino blood, since the country goes by the jus sanguinis (citizen by blood) and not jus soli (from the soil) which the US abides by.

Duterte is standing with three Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justices’ vote saying that Poe is not a natural-born citizen — a requirement for everyone who seeks elective public posts, including the presidency.

“I agree with all the justices of the Supreme Court that Grace Poe is not a natural-born Filipino,” Duterte told reporters in Davao City yesterday, even calling Poe an “American.”
The feisty Mayor said the senator-judges who voted in a 5-4 majority, sustained the mere presumption that Poe is natural born which, he says, should never be the case and is thus unlawful.
“It says deemed or presumed only. A theory cannot amend a Constitution by presumption. This is unconstitutional,” Duterte, stressed.

Duterte blasted the political ploy behind the decision.

“(The) politicians voted to sustain a theory that Poe is a natural-born Filipino. I am very disappointed with the votes of these politicians. This was politicized,” he said.

Duterte used to be a potential contender for the presidency but didn’t made it official.
However, he was quoted by a local TV staton as saying that with such an illegal vote, he has opened himself to the possibility of his running for the top post in 2016.

Poe’s political spokesman, Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian said that while they respect Duterte’s opinion, they dismissed it, using their usual arguments.

“Senator Poe is a natural-born Filipino. International laws and covenants substantiate this fact. International laws that also prevail in our country became the driver of the decision of the majority of the members of the SET, not politics,” Gatchalian said in a text message.

Gatchalian also insisted that politics was not at play in the SET ruling.

“If you look at the five members who voted to dismiss the petition of Mr. David, they come from different political parties so clearly there is no political accommodation,” Gatchalian said.

“The five members of the SET crossed party lines to uphold the rights of foundlings like Senator Poe,” he added.

Quit being arrogrant, Grace


DAVID

Despite losing their case before the SET, the camp of petitioner Rizalito David advised presidential aspirant Poe to stop being arrogant over a “political decision.”

READ MORE...

David’s counsel, Manny Luna, particularly cited Poe’s “unacceptable comment” against the reputation of Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Antonio Carpio who, together with two other SC justice-members of the SET, Justices eesita de Castro and Artur Brion declared that Poe is not a natural-born Filipino citizen and must have to prove that she is one.

Luna warned Poe to worry instead about David’s Motion for Reconsideration (MR) and his Petition for Certiorari before the SC, as well as the cases leveled against her before the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Poe still has to face David’s electoral offense charge before the Comelec-based complaint on alleged material misrepresentations in her 2012 senatorial certificate of candidacy (CoC) - and four separate petitions aiming to disqualify her from joining next year’s Malacañang race.

“If I were them, they should worry about our MR and probable reversal of the patently political and shockingly erroneous ruling, grave abuse of discretion and utter defiance of the Constitution as well as the impending DQ cases at the Comelec,” Luna told The Tribune in an interview.

Luna also reiterated that the majority of the SET “dealt a deadly blow and inflicted moral wounds upon the Constitution”.

“Unless they correct themselves upon consideration of Mr. David’s MR, such sacrilege of the great Charter will be an irreversibly contribution to the rule of law,” he said.

“As senator-judges, they should have upheld what is judicial and not the political. Sadly, they chose to do the unthinkable, that is, put international law above our Constitution,” Luna added.

But Poe’s legal counsel lawyer George Garcia advised David to “move on” already.

“Mr. David has been ill-advised for disparaging the SET decision. It was not a political decision but a clear-cut judgment based on prevailing jurisprudence,” Garcia said.

Garcia also scored David for assailing senator-judges of voting due to political considerations.

“It is becoming more and more obvious that Mr. David has nothing to stand on—that all his allegations about this foundling not being a natural-born Filipino citizen are just part of a sinister plot that he and his cohorts concocted,” he said.

As such, Garcia advised the petitioner to “just move on and focus his efforts instead to finding incontrovertible proof that Senator Poe is not a natural-born Filipino.”

“And since he appears to be obsessed with Senator Poe’s foreign blood, then maybe he should start making more frequent trips abroad to embark on such a search,” he quipped.

MR readied before SET, certoriari to follow before SC

A motion for reconsideration (MR) is ready to be filed by David with the SET, and later to question the ruling on the SET decision favoring Poe, depending on the outcome of the MR vote.

David has 10 days to appeal the case, which the SET will resolve before December 10.

A separate criminal complaint against the lady lawmaker at the Comelec, and four disqualification cases were also filed against Poe’s presidential candidacy.

David told reporters covering the Balitaan sa Hotel Rembrandt those who voted in favor of Poe set aside the Constitution as they adopted a political decision in resolving the petition against the senator.

“They set aside the Constitution. The decision is political and not constitutional. Thus, we will bring this to the Supreme Court,” David said, adding he is very sorry for those who are saying that the decision was for foundlings but the decision, the issue is Poe’s nationality status,” LUma said.

David said since 1950 there are an estimated 4,000 registered foundlings and they have not been discriminated against.

“The claim of Sen. Bam Aquino that it’s about the rights of a foundlings is wrong. Their strategy is to delay the case and they are not tackling the merits since they want to stretch it so Poe’s name can be included in the printing of ballots,” David said.

David reiterated that the camp of Poe from the start has been saying to let the people decide but it’s wrong because there is the Constitution that a presidential candidate should be a natural born citizen.

“There is grave of abuse of discretion of the senators, if you want to be president you should be the first to follow the rule of law. This is not an ordinary case, its implication is big, particularly to the future of our country,” David said.

Former Rep. Jacinto “Jing” Paras said there is no discrimination against foundlings.

“Senator Poe was not discriminated against as she lived luxuriously and studied in exclusive schools and even stayed in the United States,” Paras said.

“It is a principle of nationality law by which citizenship is not determined by place of birth but by having one or both parents who are citizens of the state.

Paras said jus sanguinis was used by the SC justices in ruling against Poe and the reason reason the a DNA test is done to satisfy the law. The decision of the senators is hogwash,” he said.

Poe was challenged to instead accept the offer of vice presidential candidate and Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. for a DNA test.

Poe camp seeks inhibition of 3 SET justices on certoriari

The three SC justices who voted for the disqualification of Poe to discontinue her being a senator of the Republic, should inhibit themselves from the impending case to be filed before the SC. Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero said yesterday.

The senator, coming to the defense of his presidential running mate, said he expects SC Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Teresita Leonardo-De Casto and Arturo Brion to inhibit themselves from the deliberations should David pursue to challenge the SET ruling dismissing the latter’s petition against Poe.

All three justices are members of the SET and have all voted in favor of David’s petition.
Escudero said it would be a violation of Poe’s right to due process if the three magistrates will be allowed to participate in the appeal of the SET decision before the high court.

“If we look at the procedure, precedents and common practice, the three justices cannot participate in the appeal of the SET decision because they can’t review their own decision,” Escudero pointed out.

“Delicadeza also dictates that the concerned justices inhibit themselves in the event the disqualification case is brought before the SC for final determination,” he added.

Escudero expressed belief that the position taken by the three magistrates was a clear form of discrimination against foundlings whom they regarded as not being natural-born Filipino citizens and thus barred from running and elected to national posts.

“They forgot the basic principle in law that says ‘those who have less in life should always have more in law.’ For the foundlings who have less in law should have more in law and that is the key, bridge and instrument to obtain justice,” Escudero said.

While saying he respects the decision of the three magistrates, he said they should not forget that “laws are made to become instruments of justice and should not be used as a tool of injustice or to discriminate anyone.”

During the September 21 SET oral arguments on the petition to unseat Poe from the Senate, Carpio stated that Poe, being a foundling, is a naturalized citizen.

Under the 1987 Constitution, only natural-born Filipino citizens are qualified to run for president, vice-president, senator and congressman.

But Escudero insisted that Poe is a natural-born Filipino citizen, saying that under the 1987 Charter and international and domestic laws, a foundling found in the Philippines is presumed to have Filipino biological parents.

To say that a foundling like Poe cannot be a citizen of the Philippines is a violation of an individual’s basic and alienable human right to bear a nationality from birth, he added.

Last Tuesday, Nov. 17, the SET voted 5-4 to junk David’s petition seeking to unseat Poe due to her alleged questionable citizenship status. The body upheld Poe’s claims that she’s natural-born citizen despite being a foundling.

Senators Vicente Sotto III, Bam Aquino, Pia Cayetano, Loren Legarda and Cynthia Villar voted in favor of Poe.

Aside from the three justices, Sen. Nancy Binay, daughter of one of Poe’s rivals in the presidential race, Vice President Jejomar Binay, voted in favor of David’s petition.
With Alvin Murcia

-----------------------------------------

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Duterte waiting for final ruling on Poe DQ By Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 23, 2015 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte stressed he had nothing against Senator Grace Poe but laws should be followed, not bent, to accommodate a candidate whose citizenship is under question. Philstar.com/File

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – After months of sending mixed signals, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said he might run for president in the 2016 elections if a final ruling keeps Sen. Grace Poe in the race.

Duterte, who made the announcement during a gathering in Cavite on Saturday, said he could not stomach how Poe has made a mockery of the law of the land by running for president even if she has not proven herself to be a natural-born Filipino.

“I might run, after all that is happening,” Duterte told the gathering in Cavite.

“This tanim-bala (bullet planting controversy), criminality, corruption, political decision instead of the legal issue on Poe’s citizenship are all symptomatic of the oppression of Filipinos,” he said, referring to the disqualification case against Poe that was dismissed by the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET).

Duterte stressed he had nothing against Poe but laws should be followed, not bent, to accommodate a candidate whose citizenship is under question.

Duterte yesterday revealed Poe had even asked to be his running mate during the period of filing the certificate of candidacy (COC) last October.

“That was before her ranking in the surveys came out on top. She talked to me and asked me that she will run as my vice president,” Duterte said, adding that he turned down Poe because he was not interested in the presidency.

Duterte said he again had a chance to talk with Poe after she was topping the presidential surveys.

“The second time Poe asked me to be her running mate because she will run for president, but still I told her I was not interested in running for vice president or even president,” he said.

Presumptive citizenship Duterte clarified during his “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” weekly TV program yesterday that he is also waiting for the SET to reverse its ruling on the disqualification case against Poe after the filing of a motion for reconsideration.

He described the SET decision allowing Poe to run as “reeking of politics” and the resolution was not based on the legality of the citizenship of the senator.

He disagreed with the SET decision, saying the disqualification case against Poe was not political but a “constitutional issue.”

Duterte said SET should decide before the Dec. 10 deadline for the substitution of candidates for the May 2016 polls.

“But should SET decide on a later date, it would be that I would have filed my COC for president already,” he said. –Jess Diaz, Christina Mendez, Mayen Jaymalin, Perseus Echeminada, Alexis Romero


INQUIRER

IT’S OFFICIAL: Duterte, Cayetano team up for 2016 SHARES: 99.2K VIEW COMMENTS By: Niña Calleja and Michael Lim Ubac @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 03:22 AM November 22nd, 2015


Vice presidential contender Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano bows to his guest, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, during the senator’s 45th birthday party in Taguig City. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/RICHARD A. REYES

DASMARIÑAS, Cavite—The tough-talking Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte might run for the presidency after all.

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano confirmed to the Inquirer on Saturday night that it is a Duterte-Cayetano tandem for the 2016 elections.

In a phone interview on Saturday night, Cayetano said: “Yes, he will not allow the Constitution to be disregarded and it’s just a matter of talking to the PDP-Laban and setting everything in motion.”

Duterte, who had just come from Iloilo, made the bold announcement when asked by reporters in an ambush interview.

“When he got here (in Cavite), he said that—he’s now open to a presidential run,” said the Senate majority leader.

“My candidacy for the presidency is now on the table,” Duterte said at a birthday celebration of his law school classmate here in Dasmariñas on Saturday night.

It was yet the strongest statement the reluctant candidate said on his on-and-off presidential intentions.

Duterte in a speech that lasted for about 30 minutes said what changed his mind was the recent decision of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) throwing the disqualification case questioning the citizenship of Sen. Grace Poe who has been accused of not being a natural-born citizen.

READ MORE...

“(Poe) will be a presumptive President whose citizenship is based on presumption. The highest position is reserved for a true-blue Filipino,” Duterte said.

“I cannot accept an American President,” Duterte said.

He said he would still “fill in the gaps” and talk to the members of his political party PDP-Laban led by Sen. Koko Pimentel about his decision.

When asked if he is going to file his candidacy at the Commission on Elections on Monday, Duterte said: “Not yet. I have to make the rounds to fill in the gaps.”

He said it would be a disrespect to members of PDP-Laban and Pimentel who are among those who have been pushing him to run if he does not talk to them about his decision.

“Let’s see,” Duterte said when asked if his decision was final.

He said he would change his mind unless the SET reverses its ruling or Poe shows the public her real mother.

“Show me your real mother and I will even campaign for you,” Duterte said.

“I can’t allow them to f–k the people and to destroy the Constitution. I respect the SET but the ruling is totally wrong,” said Cayetano, quoting Duterte.

“If you disregard the Constitution, that’s just wrong. Because of that he’s running. He’ll no longer allow what’s happening,” the senator added, still quoting Duterte.

RELATED STORIES
Alan Cayetano to Duterte: Thank you for believing in my ability

----------------------------------------------------------------------

FROM FOX WORLD NEWS, USA (FLASHBACK OCTOBER 2015)

4 major contenders emerge in Philippine presidential election to be held next year Published October 17, 2015Associated Pres


In this Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 photo, Sen. Miriam Santiago displays her certificate of candidacy shortly after filing as a presidential candidate for next year's presidential elections in Manila, Philippines. Santiago is one of at least four major contenders to have emerged in next year's presidential race in the Philippines after a weeklong registration of candidates closed Friday. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) (The Associated Press)

MANILA, Philippines – At least four major contenders have emerged in next year's presidential race in the Philippines after a weeklong registration of candidates closed Friday.

It has been nearly three decades since the country of 100 million emerged from dictatorship after the 1986 "people power" revolt, and under President Benigno Aquino III, the economy has been growing steadily. His predecessor has been detained on an elections fraud charge and three senators were separately detained on corruption charges under Aquino's anti-graft fight.

But poverty, corruption, crime and insurgencies remain daunting challenges, and past elections have been marred by fraud and violence, including the massacre of 58 people when followers of a candidate at odds with a warlord clan filed papers in a southern province months ahead of the 2010 vote.

The Commission on Elections said 130 candidates had registered for president and 19 for vice president. Most are unknown, and the commission said "nuisance" candidates who cannot mount a national campaign will be disqualified. More than 18,000 congressional and local posts will be decided in the May 9 election.

A look at the main contenders:

READ MORE...

NAME POWER: GRACE POE

Although she lacks a formidable political party, independent candidate Sen. Grace Poe has a crucial advantage — name recognition — in a country where many are swayed more by personalities than policy issues. Her mother and late father are among the most popular movie couples of all time.

The 47-year-old also has a poignant life story. As a newborn, she was abandoned in a church, and later adopted by her celebrity parents. A political neophyte, she topped the senatorial elections in 2013 and has led in recent polls among potential presidential contenders. But she faces questions over her citizenship.

Poe renounced her Filipino citizenship when she moved to the United States to live with her husband, an American man of Filipino descent, and became an American. She became Filipino again a few years after returning to the Philippines in 2005. A lawyer has filed a complaint to have her candidacy voided, arguing that she was a foundling and cannot meet a constitutional requirement for aspirants to be natural-born Filipinos.

___

PRESIDENT'S PICK: MANUEL "MAR" ROXAS II

Former Interior Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II has several factors in his favor for next year's race: He's the ruling Liberal Party's bet, has a presidential pedigree and, most importantly, is the choice of outgoing President Aquino, who remains popular. He's the grandson of the Philippines' first post-World War II president, a son of a prominent senator who opposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos and a scion of a wealthy political clan.

He was an investment banker before being drawn into politics in 1993 with a successful congressional run. Once a trade secretary, he's credited for helping the Philippines become one of the world's top outsourcing and call center hubs. Roxas, 58, served under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, but later became one of her sharpest critics when corruption allegations against her emerged.

Critics blame Roxas for transport woes and widespread crimes that plagued the public when he was at the top of the transport and interior and local government departments, which were in charge of those problems. He has long suffered from low ratings, but they have improved lately.

___

TOP TO UNDERDOG: JEJOMAR BINAY

A former human rights lawyer who says he rose from poverty through hard work, including collecting pig slop, Vice President Jejomar Binay helped fight Marcos as an activist. After the strongman fell in 1986, Binay started to build a name in politics as mayor of Makati city, the country's version of Wall Street. In 2010, he was elected vice president and was given extra posts to oversee housing concerns and the welfare of millions of overseas Filipino workers, which helped make him popular.

Binay's survey ratings, however, started to dip when he faced allegations of corruption, including the use of dummy businessmen for vast real estate properties, which were investigated in months of televised Senate grillings that he skipped and called a political farce. The 72-year-old has denied any wrongdoing. In an independent voter-preference survey last month, Binay placed a strong third among the top four contenders.

___

FEISTY SENATOR: MIRIAM SANTIAGO

Sen. Miriam Santiago is running for president for the third time, narrowly losing in 1992 to Fidel Ramos, a former military general who helped lead the 1986 revolt, before finishing seventh among 10 candidates in 1998. The 70-year-old senator, a former law professor and trial court judge, is best known for her sharp tongue, sarcasm and testy demeanor on the public stage.

When she headed the graft-ridden immigration commission, she lashed back at employees who resisted her reforms and demanded her ouster with an unforgettable quip: "They should be chopped into a thousand pieces and fed to the sharks in Manila Bay. But it is problematic whether the sharks will eat them, out of a sense of professional courtesy!"

In 1995, Santiago won a seat in the Senate, where she would later challenge a fellow senator to a fist fight. She has taken a stand against U.S. interests, calling for the termination of the U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement, which, she contends, violates Philippine laws. In a dramatic public disclosure last year, she said she had stage-4 lung cancer, but now says that the cancer has regressed and that she is fit to run for president again.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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