WHILE declaring Senator Grace Poe a Filipino when it was still trying to recruit her as its vice presidential candidate, the Liberal Party now says it is uncertain about her status as a natural-born citizen and will await the outcome of four petitions filed against her.
“As far as we know, and with the information that we had when we invited her to be part of the Daang Matuwid coalition in 2013 to the slate as senator, and early this year when we invited her to be our vice president, [Poe was a natural-born Filipino],” said Akbayan Rep. Ibarra Gutierrez III, campaign spokesman for the LP team of Manuel Roxas II and Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo.
“But as of now, there are other allegations being thrown against her in the Comelec [Commission on Elections], there are four cases filed against her, so we cannot say what’s the situation now. Like many, we are also waiting [to see] what will be the results. We do hope that the Constitution and the rule of law will prevail,” Gutierrez said.
Although Poe and her staff were repeatedly asked to comment on the LP tirade, Poe declined to address the matter categorically and only criticized her opponents indirectly.
At the “Know Your Candidate” forum hosted by the Harvard Club of the Philippines, Kellog School of Management and Wharton and University of Pennsylvania Alumni Association, Poe said she will respect the decision of the court, if she is disqualified.
“But I continue to fight for the principles we have presented in the complaints against us,” she said. “Ang batang inabandona ng magulang ay hindi dapat abandonahin ng gobyerno [A child abandoned by her parents should not be abandoned by the government]”
She insisted that all she wants is to spur “inclusive growth for every Filipino.”
“I admit I only have three years of political experience, but there is no evidence that long years in government will translate to good performance,” Poe said, taking a potshot at the worsening Metro Manila traffic situation that is being blamed on Roxas, who was once transportation secretary.
Roxas also confirmed attendace at the forum, but he still had not arrived at press time, an hour and a half after the scheduled star of the event.
“I’m not just running because I believe I have chance of winning in this election. I just want to bring inclusive growth to the people,” she said, adding that her Cabinet hiring policy if she wins will be based on integrity, intelligence and energy.
On Monday, Roxas referred to allegations that Poe, the frontrunner in the presidential opinion surveys, was not a natural-born citizen.
“Without any specificity, none of us would want a foreigner as president, right?” Roxas said. “The issue here is being a natural-born Filipino, which is stated in the Constitution.”
“And in the end, the rule of law should prevail because if there is no law, then it will already be might is right—those who have the money, those who have the guns and those who have the loudest voice would prevail in our country,” he added.
This was in sharp contrast to his declaration in August—when he was still recruiting Poe—that he had no doubt that she was a Filipino.
“Obviously, I believe that Poe is a Filipino. I even invited her to be my running mate,” Roxas said at the time.
Poe’s campaign team blasted Roxas for questioning her citizenship when just a few months ago, he had tried to convince her to be his running mate.
“How can they say that she is a foreign national when they even tried to draft her as their vice-presidential bet?” Team Galing at Puso spokesperson and Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian said Tuesday.
“Surely, these actions were grounded in research,” he added.
But Gutierrez denied that Roxas was referring to Poe, and said the senator should respect the rule of law and uphold the Constitution.
“What he was trying to say is that we need to uphold the rule of law, and nobody really wants anyone to have a foreigner president, right? If they think that they were the ones who were being hit by that statement, maybe they’re guilty,” Gutierrez added.
Poe on Wednesday denied allegations raised by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte—the lastest entrant in the 2016 presidential race—that she was an American.
“That’s not true,” Poe said, adding that she was a natural-born Filipino citizen even though she was a foundling, and that she was qualified to run for president.
“It’s up to them to call me names,” she said.
Gatchalian dismissed the attacks on Poe’s citizenship as politically motivated.
He said Poe’s camp would not dwell on other people’s opinions.
“Senator Poe is a natural born Filipino, no less that the SET [Senate Electoral Tribunal] reiterated that. In fact Senator Poe was asked to run as VP by almost all the presidential candidates running for next year’s elections. Not just one camp but almost all camps. It’s sad that when she politely declined their offer, the numerous attacks and allusions surfaced. We also have to remember that Senator Poe ran under the admin coalition in 2013, and her citizenship was never an issue,” Gatchalian said.
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.