Monday, October 26, 2015

November 3 Grace Poe faces the Comelec for allegedly committing an election offence

This November 3, Grace Natividad Militar a.k.a. Grace Poe-Llamanzares will face the Commission on Elections law department. Llamanzares will be asked simply to respond to a very simple question---did she or did she not committed a violation of the Omnibus Election Code when she filed her Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) last 2013, the time she first ran as a Senator.

The violation? Section 74 in relation to section 262 of the Omnibus Election Code which states:

Sec. 74. Contents of certificate of candidacy. - The certificate of candidacy shall state that the person filing it is announcing his candidacy for the office stated therein and that he is eligible for said office; if for Member of the Batasang Pambansa, the province, including its component cities, highly urbanized city or district or sector which he seeks to represent; the political party to which he belongs; civil status; his date of birth; residence; his post office address for all election purposes; his profession or occupation; that he will support and defend the Constitution of the Philippines and will maintain true faith and allegiance thereto; that he will obey the laws, legal orders, and decrees promulgated by the duly constituted authorities; that he is not a permanent resident or immigrant to a foreign country; that the obligation imposed by his oath is assumed voluntarily, without mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that the facts stated in the certificate of candidacy are true to the best of his knowledge
Unless a candidate has officially changed his name through a court approved proceeding, a certificate shall use in a certificate of candidacy the name by which he has been baptized, or if has not been baptized in any church or religion, the name registered in the office of the local civil registrar or any other name allowed under the provisions of existing law or, in the case of a Muslim, his Hadji name after performing the prescribed religious pilgrimage: Provided, That when there are two or more candidates for an office with the same name and surname, each candidate, upon being made aware or such fact, shall state his paternal and maternal surname, except the incumbent who may continue to use the name and surname stated in his certificate of candidacy when he was elected. He may also include one nickname or stage name by which he is generally or popularly known in the locality. 
The person filing a certificate of candidacy shall also affix his latest photograph, passport size; a statement in duplicate containing his bio-data and program of government not exceeding one hundred words, if he so desires. 
Section 262 of the Omnibus Election Code states:

SECTION262.Otherelectionoffenses.– Violationof theprovisions,orpertinent portions,of thefollowingsectionsof thisCodeshallconstituteelectionoffenses:Sections9,18,74,75, 76, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 122, 123, 127, 128, 129, 132, 134, 135, 145, 148, 150, 152, 172, 173, 174, 178, 180, 182, 184, 185, 186, 189, 190, 191, 192, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 215, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 223, 229, 230, 231, 233, 234, 235, 236, 239 and 240.

The punishment for committing election offenses is stated in Section 264 which states, in toto:

SECTION264.Penalties.– Anypersonfoundguiltyof anyelectionoffenseunderthisCode shall be punished with imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years and shallnot besubject to probation.Inaddition,theguiltypartyshallbesentencedto suffer disqualification to hold public office and deprivation of the right of suffrage.If he is a foreigner, he shall be sentenced to deportation which shall be enforced after the prison term has been served. Any political party found guilty shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than ten thousand pesos, which shall be imposed upon such party after criminal action has been instituted in which their corresponding officials have been found guilty.(Sec.181, 1978 EC)

Now, what are the material facts that probably constitute the offenses allegedly committed by Grace Poe-Llamanzares?

First, she signed the COC attesting that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen, when she knows for a fact that she is a foundling, and that status cannot be changed even with adoption. The act of adoption is, ipso facto, an act bestowing citizenship, something not within the contemplation of our 1987 Constitution (and even in the 1935 Constitution) when it comes to defining who is a Filipino citizen or not. It is very clear in our constitution that natural born Filipino citizens do not have to do any act to acquire citizenship. In Poe-Llamanzares' case, adoption was an act---hence, she cannot claim the status of a natural-born Filipino citizen.

Second, Poe-Llamanzares claims to be suited to the office which she aspires for when she knew for a fact that she lacks the residency requirement as stated by the Law. 

There are just two things which the camp of Poe-Llamanzares needs to answer--did she or did she not claim the status of a natural-born Filipino citizen when she is not and did she or did she not state that she satisfies the residency requirement as stated in our Constitution. Simple. 

The camp of Poe-Llamanzares is resorting to different diversionary tactics, one of which is emotional appeal even trying to use foundlings as a peg in their election campaign, trying to picture that Poe-Llamanzares' case would affect the statuses of millions of foundlings in this country. Such a pitiful thing, really.

Poe-Llamanzares needs to seriously study their options. Some people are raising the argument that it harms democracy if we allow just two qualified candidates to run for the position of President.

I beg to disagree. As it stands, there are five to at least 10 people who filed a CoC and are more than qualified than Poe-Llamanzares. So it is not a matter of national security that Poe-Llamanzares be held accountable for what she claimed in her 2013 COC.

The issue here is SIMPLE--THE RULE OF LAW.  Whether the person who committed the offense belongs to the rich or from the poorest of ranks, the violation has been committed and the offender must answer for it. 

The fact is---a much higher standard is expected of leaders since they vowed to uphold the Constitution and the Law. Hw dare you claim to be a leader of 101 million Filipinos when the very simple act of attesting the truthfulness of your personal circumstances you cannot give an assurance of being precise and of following the law? 

Poe-Llamanzares needs to answer all of these and she says it anyway that she is ready to face her accusers in court. So be it.