- The Solicitor General says that foundlings like Sen. Grace Poe are natural born Filipinos
- The OSG refused to defend COMELEC which said that foundlings are not natural born citizens
- The OSG also noted that Poe satisfied the 10-year residency requirement to be President
The government’s chief legal defender took the position that foundlings in the Philippines, like presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe, are 99.93 percent natural born Filipino citizens.
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) presented this argument as the Supreme Court (SC) continued hearing the two petitions against Poe’s candidacy.
Solicitor General Florin Hilbay refused to defend the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) which had earlier disqualified Poe on the basis that as a foundling, she did not have natural born citizenship status that is a requisite for holding national elective post.
“According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, from 2010 to 2014, on a yearly average, there were 1,766,046 children born in the Philippines to Filipino parents, as opposed to 1,301 children born in the Philippines of foreign parents. Thus, for that sample period, the ratio of non-Filipino children to natural-born Filipino children is 1:1,357. This means that the statistical probability that any child born in the Philippines would be a natural-born Filipino is 99.93%,” Hilbay argued before the SC, as quoted by ABS-CBN News.
In addition, the OSG cited deliberations of the 1935 Constitutional Convention, which raised that foundlings should be considered as natural born. Moreover, the OSG argued that although the 1935, 1973, and 1987 Constitutions did not explicitly mention it, under the supreme law of the land, foundlings are granted Filipino citizenship at birth.
This was also in line with the principle of social justice, as championed by the current Constitution.
To exclude foundlings from exercising fundamental political rights and make them legally invisible, would be baseless, unjust, discriminatory, contrary to common sense, and the wrong way to interpret the Constitution,” Hilbay said.
The OSG also sided with Poe on the question of residency; saying she had satisfied the mandatory 10-year minimum requirement to become President based on previous SC rulings that residency only obliges an individual to have an intention to reside and evidence to prove it.
“The tipping point seems to have been 2005, when she returned to the Philippines along with her three children who, in the meantime, were uprooted from their schools in the United States and transferred to schools in Manila. They lived with her mother for a while, then transferred to a condominium while her new family home was being built. The narrative of her private and public life has since then been centered on the Philippines, save for a few visits to the United States. Based on these facts, the claim that she has been a resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years is a valid claim,” the Solicitor General said.
The case against Poe is expected to be deemed submitted for resolution in the following week; after both parties submit their respective memoranda.