Thursday, June 18, 2015

POElitics of Statelessness

I was told that my suggestion regarding a Roxas-Poe Team up for the 2016 elections has reached some leaders of both camps. As I stated in my previous column "POE, POEtic Justice, Polls, Politics, Positioning" the proposal is best for the country, for PNoy and “Tuwid na Daan”, for Roxas, Poe, and the LP and its allies.

There is resistance from some Poe followers understandably. They think that since Poe is currently No. 2 to Binay and Roxas is only No.3 in the latest survey, she should be the presidential candidate. In fact, in the most recent Pulse Asia survey, Poe is now no.1 beating Binay and Roxas respectively.

As I argued previously, it would be a big mistake to rely on surveys alone to determine the winning viability of a candidate at this time. During the 2010 vice presidential campaign, an SWS poll conducted from Sept. 18 to 21, 2009 or about eight months before the elections, 40% of the respondents chose Roxas as Vice President while Binay was the choice of only 2%. In fact, Legarda and Noli de Catro were tied at second place with 23% each. Escudero was third with 13%. Binay was nowhere near.

It is still eleven months away so things may change. In fact, the SWS vice presidential survey on May 2-3, 2010 showed a virtual tie with Roxas getting 37% and Binay 37.2%. Guess who eventually won? Thanks to the NoyBi people (including some PNoy relatives) Roxas lost. Overconfidence on the part of Roxas was partly to blame.

Let me reiterate, as my San Beda professor once said, “I repeat it again and again once more for the second time” – “
Machinery (Organization); Money (Resources); Manpower (volunteers and paid employees); Message (Traditional Media, Social Media, PR, Propaganda/Advertising); and Management (Planning, Leading, Organizing, & Controlling) are very important factors” in determining the winning viability of a presidential candidate.

Since PNoy, Roxas, and the LP are considering Poe for a higher position seriously, I explained to friends in the Poe camp that this is an opportunity that Poe should be prepared to meet. “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity”.

The Binay camp and some legal experts presented some issues that Poe might be forced to face if she decides to run for either the presidency or vice presidency. First, is the 10-year residency requirement and the second, is the citizenship qualification.

I do not think that she would have a real problem defending her 10-year residency. The doctrine of“Animus revertendi” and jurisprudence provide sufficient evidence to support the Philippines as her “domicile” or legal residence for at least 10 years. Furthermore, there are sufficient factual circumstances showing that she actually resided – not just intended to return for a longer period.

The second issue is a little tricky. The Philippine Constitution requires that one should be a natural born citizen to run for President or Vice President. Fernando Poe, Jr. and Susan Roces adopted Grace Poe. According to certain Supreme Court decisions, “adoption does not confer 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.”

Furthermore, Poe turned out to be a “foundling - refers to a deserted or abandoned infant or child whose parents, guardian or relatives are unknown; or a child committed to an orphanage or charitable or similar institution with unknown facts of birth and parentage and registered in the Civil Register as a “foundling.”

It is therefore unknown whether Poe is a natural born citizen of the Philippines as expressly provided for under Philippine domestic laws. There are however, International laws that specifically recognize the rights of “foundlings” in relation to their nationalities. International laws are considered part of the country’s laws.

One of these laws is the 1961 International Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. Article 2 of said convention provides, “[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.”

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio Panaganiban recently opined, “Applying that article to Senator 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,” 

The bad news is that the Philippines is not a signatory to the 1961 International Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. The good news is that PNoy’s Administration could accelerate efforts to accede and be a signatory to the Treaty/Convention.

Senator Grace Poe, her followers and friends in the political arena might start lobbying for PNoy’s assistance if a Roxas-Poe tandem is to be realized.

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