Sen. Grace Poe defended herself on Wednesday from United Nationalist Alliance’s (UNA) claim that she is not qualified to run for higher office during the 2016 elections, saying she meets the residency requirement specified in the Constitution.
“What was most insulting to me was for them to say I am not honest because I am not qualified (to run for higher office) and I did not state it. I am qualified but I am still not a candidate. I will address all of this when I file (my certificate of candidacy) and this would be my answer,” she said.
The senator said UNA’s recent attack against her is pushing her to run for higher office in 2016.
“Whenever I go out and they ask me how far along I am in making a decision, I would say around 50 percent but now they are pushing me closer to 100 percent,” she said.
Last Tuesday, UNA interim president and Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco presented a copy of Poe’s certificate of candidacy for the previous election showing that Poe had lived in the Philippines for 6 years and 6 months as of May 13, 2013.
This would mean that the senator would have lived in the country for 9 years and 6 months by the May 2016 elections, which would be short of the required 10 years residency requirement for presidential and vice presidential candidates under Article VII Section 2 of the Constitution.
But Poe said she has lived in the Philippines since January or February 2005, or shortly after his father’s death in 2004, which she said makes her eligible to run for higher office.
Law experts said Poe’s residency issue should not be downplayed since the 10-year requirement is explicitly stated in the Constitution.
But some believe Poe’s “foundling” status is the bigger question. Poe is an abandoned child found in Jaro Cathedral nearly 47 years ago, making her a founding. Her parents identities still remain unknown up to now.
“The mere fact na pinanganak lang siya sa Jaro does not mean na citizen na siya, kung iyong magulang niya hindi citizen. Walang presumption,” according to Amado Valdez, chairman emeritus of Philippine Association of Law Schools.
Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Sixto Brillantes meanwhile said the burden of proof is not on Poe.
”If you are questioning the citizenship of Grace Poe, ikaw ang mag-establish na foreigner ‘yung kanyang tatay o nanay. Hindi sa kanya. Kasi nandito na siya, tumakbo na siya, inelect na siya ng tao…. Lahat ng evidence shows na she is a Filipino,” Brillantes said in a report.