Grace Poe should drop out of the presidential race for the sake of unity

Philippine senator and 2016 Presidential aspirant Grace Poe who was once very popular among Filipino voters is now becoming another polarizing figure after the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Second Division cancelled her Certificate of Candidacy for the presidency. Their decision is based on grounds that she is not a natural-born citizen and has not met the minimum 10-year Philippine residency required to run for President. Apparently, her claim that she has resided in the Philippines for at least 10 years contradicts what she wrote in her COC for senator in 2013 – that she had been a resident of the Philippines for 6 years and 6 months only. In light of that, the COMELEC decided that Poe has committed material misrepresentation. The implication of that is, she could even be disqualified as a senator.

Mounting legal issues surrounding Grace Poe could distract both her and Filipinos from more pressing challenges facing the nation.

Mounting legal issues surrounding Grace Poe could distract both her and Filipinos from more pressing challenges facing the nation.

Poe has only one option left to pursue and that is, to go to the Supreme Court and appeal for a reversal of the COMELEC’s decision using the “honest mistake” excuse in filing her COC in 2013. Her chance of succeeding is not looking good though. Some of the Supreme Court judges who were also members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) already ruled against her citizenship status earlier. They are unlikely to rule in her favor on her appeal. Most of the judges cited the law in their decision and it would be safe to assume that the rest of the Supreme Court judges would follow the law as well.

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It is very unfortunate for Poe that the law is clear on the citizenship status of foundlings. According to the law, since she cannot trace her parents and cannot prove her Filipino lineage, she is not a natural born Filipino but a naturalized Filipino citizen. Only natural born Filipinos can run for the Presidency.

Dealing with her foundling issue is one thing but what makes things complicated is the fact that Poe also renounced her Philippine citizenship after she took up her American citizenship in 2001. That is the issue that gets some people’s goat. There are people who think she is a traitor for doing that. Some have gone on to say that she was a traitor twice. The first time was when she turned her back on the Philippines and the second time was when she turned her back on her adoptive country, the United States of America when she renounced her American citizenship in 2010. They think that she did not take her oaths of citizenship seriously. And that was before she took another oath as Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chair.

I disagree with people who say that Poe is a traitor. Based on her own accounts, I would say that she was simply confused and could have been suffering from an identity crisis at the time. It seems she tried living abroad but after a few years, decided that she preferred to live in the Philippines. Some might find her decision baffling considering there are millions of Filipinos who would rather be living in the U.S. than the god-forsaken country that is the Philippines.

But Poe is one of those fortunate members of the Philippine elite who has powerful connections and is offered powerful jobs in government. Life was peachy for Poe until she became a threat to other Presidential aspirants like Mar Roxas. It is a shame she had to learn the hard way how ugly Philippine politics is. She found out the real character of her “allies” just by running for the Presidency. Perhaps those who despise her should blame President Benigno Simeon Aquino for paving the way for her to enter Philippine politics despite her questionable citizenship status back in 2010.

While I may not be a Poe supporter, I don’t think her citizenship status is a big deal. I prefer to focus on whether or not she is capable of leading 100 million Filipinos. Is she that good that Filipinos are being denied an opportunity to be led by someone who can make a big difference to the country? Is it really worth disregarding the law just to accommodate Poe? My answer to both questions is no. She hasn’t even finished her first term as a senator and in the less than three years she has been in the senate, she has not made a difference at all.

Poe quite often exhibited lack of resolve in a lot of issues in the past. An example of this was when she did not pursue holding BS Aquino accountable for the deaths of 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force in the hands of Muslim rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front back in early 2015. That was after a senate report, which she commissioned, found that the President knew about the operation and ordered the military to stand down instead of helping the embattled forces.

Poe was also slow to act on problems involving the public transport system particularly the MRT. She could have spoken out against failure to improve the trains system earlier on considering she was seen riding the MRT way back in 2014. One can be forgiven for thinking that that was just for photo op and that she only started criticizing the head of the Department of Transportation and Communication Jun Abaya late in 2015 just to appeal to the angry voters.

I also question Poe’s sincerity. Like I said before, her use of her maiden name Poe instead of her married name Llamanzares says a lot. One, she is relying on the popularity of her late father, who was a revered actor, to win the votes and, therefore, she ranks right up there with most traditional politicians like her friend BS Aquino. Less than a decade in politics and it seems like Poe’s already been swallowed up by the system. Two, using her father’s popular name means she cannot stand on her own. That’s not a good sign. She is willing to live under the shadow of a man whose only real credential was being a successful actor in the Philippines. That in itself says something about the low bar the voters set for their leaders.

But never mind what I think of Poe. The point here is, Poe’s case is dividing the sentiments of the Filipino people. Even if she wins her case in the Supreme Court, the die has been cast. There are already Filipinos who do not believe they should be led by an American citizen or someone who is married to an American citizen. Their sentiments about patriotism may be misguided but the fact remains, their belief is strong and if Poe wins the election — if she is allowed to run — these people will not support her Presidency. One can predict another tumultuous six years under a leader who will not have a strong mandate.

One wonders if all of Poe’s legal woes would not have surfaced had she agreed to run as Mar Roxas’s Vice President instead. After all, the Liberal Party at the start turned a blind eye to the fact that she was a foundling and that she did not meet the 10-year minimum residency requirement. Malacanang’s excuse that they were not aware of her problems is lame. BS Aquino should actually share the blame for Poe’s legal problems. He was the one who handpicked her for the MTRCB. Her case is another example of the Philippines’ debilitating patronage politics.

The situation with Poe has the potential to get even uglier for Filipinos. If the COMELEC allows Poe’s name on the ballot and wins the election due to her popularity, then her term could be spent responding to disqualification cases filed by her rivals. How then can she accomplish anything significant for the country? A Poe Presidency could be another wasted six-years.

If Poe really wants what is best for the Philippines, she should considering backing out of the Presidential race for the sake of unity. It will help remove some of the inconsequential issues the Filipino people have to deal with.

10 Replies to “Grace Poe should drop out of the presidential race for the sake of unity”

  1. Well, I think the situation is flawed. Is she a traitor? No, she is not. She never swore an oath of citizenship before she renounced it because she obtained it due to her status as foundling according to international law. But according to international law a foundling has to be treated like a person who has obtained citizenship though birth. It is another issue that she renounced her citizenship and re-obtained it later. This can make her lose the status as naturally born. But the law is unclear on that issue.

    Well, there is still the issue of residency. Accoding to her COC for the 2013 elections she ws resident in the Philippines for 6 years and 6 months. Because she had to file her COC in October/November 2012 this would mean that she is resident since April/May 2006. So in May 2016 at the time of election she is a resident for 10 years.

    I think it’s better to let the voters decide, not a probably biased committee.

  2. You can’t have it both ways. Either you respect the law or you don’t. Drop out of the race already. You are not suitable for the presidency anyway.

  3. I think Grace Poe is a smart lady. I mean if its left to her, she will back out. I think it’s her ‘supporters’ and ‘advisers’ who are behind it. You know, those who, if Poe wins, just wants to have a small share of the power or at least touch the throne and those who will benefit more if she gets elected. Who advised and paved the way for her to run as senator knowing that she had an issue with her citizenship? Poe is not a lawyer.

    In the end, yes, she should drop out of the race, not only for unity’s sake but for her own sake as well.Grace is slowly being swallowed by the system and I hate seeing it.

    Grace Poe should back out. So should Binay, Roxas and Duterte? I think so too.

  4. Link – I make a reference to the ludicrous Poe case in my article…

    I say we need “Real education. Problem-solving skills and not discussing ius sanguinis and residency requirements like medieval monks who discussed how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.” – Padre Damaso country IS medieval…

    What I also say is this: “There is not enough cohesion yet at the national level. Political groups try to blame each other for nearly everything while pretending they are saints themselves – some more and some less. Finally there are a few who have realized that it is imperative to address the work to be done instead of getting lost in personal and group quarrels. Like former President Ramos in the slapping issue.” – now doesn’t this apply to all of us a little bit? Time to think of what our New Year’s Resolutions will be in 3 days.

  5. I am not a supporter of Grace Poe. Let people decide. Not the Supreme Court or the COMELEC. The Supreme Court and the COMELEC are the Willing Tools of Aquino and Mar Roxas.

    Grace Poe was found in the Philippines, as a newly born infant. So, she is a natural born Filipino. To tell people otherwise, is just twisting the legal terms, to prevent her from running.

    Mar Roxas is worse then Grace Poe. Mar Roxas cannot explain to us the disappearance of the Typhoon Yolanda Relief Fund. I can assume that Mar Roxas and Aquino have stolen the relief fund.

    It is the responsibility of Aquino to explain to us, why the Mamapasano massacre is still unresolved. Mar Roxas called it a: “misencounter”. Aquino called out all investigation of the tragedy. Aquino and Roxas did not even honor the sacrifices of the 44 fallen heroes.

    The LRT maintenance problem is the responsibility of Aquino and Abaya. Mar Roxas had never implemented a program to remedy the LRT problem.

    Let us not “railroad” Mar Roxas to the Presidency, as Aquino wants. Mar Roxas is a Thief and a Liar.

    Let Grace Poe run for President. If the people elect her…it will be the people’s fault, if she cannot deliver. However, if you prevent her from running. It is a clear SUBVERSION of our Electoral Process, by those in power…it is the responsibility of every citizen for this to happen.

  6. It should read: “It is the responsibility of every citizen , to see that this Subversion of our Electoral Process, will not happen”.

    To err is human , to forgive is divine…sorry for my mistake.

  7. since Grace Poe renounced her Pilipino citizenship in 2001, how many years did she stay in the Philippines since birth preceding ‘such’ election?

  8. if Grace Poe wins the presidency, she should abolished PPP. it’s a lethal injection for the Pilipinos. let the taxpayers money run the business.

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