Independent vice-presidential candidate Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero could not hide his frustration and disappointment with the Supreme Court justices who dissented the majority decision of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) dismissing the disqualification case against his presidential running mate Sen. Grace Poe.
Escudero said the position taken by SC Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Teresita Leonardo de Castro and Arturo Brion was a clear form of discrimination against foundlings whom they regarded as not natural-born Filipino citizens and thus barred from running and be elected to national posts.
“Nakakalimutan po yata nila ang isang basic na prinsipyo sa batas na nagsasabing ‘those who have less in life should always have more in law.’ Para sa mga kapos-palad at salat sa buhay, dapat ‘yung pagkukulang na iyon pinupunan ng batas at iyon ang dapat maging susi at tulay at instrumento para makamit ang hustisya,” Escudero said.
While the veteran lawmaker respects the decision of the three magistrates, he said they should not forget that “laws are made to become instruments of justice and should not be used as a tool of injustice or to discriminate anyone.”
“Essentially sinasabi nila na ang pulot na bata na hindi alam kung sino ang kanyang magulang ay stateless at wala raw siyang bansang kinabibilangan. Ayon po sa isang mahistrado, hindi po pwedeng magkaroon ng mas malawak at malaking karapatan ang isang pulot o dampot na bata kumpara sa batang kilala ang kanilang magulang pagdating sa citizenship,” Escudero said, referring to Carpio.
During the Sept. 21 SET oral arguments on the petition to unseat Poe from the Senate, Carpio opined that the lady senator, being a foundling, is a naturalized citizen.
Under the 1987 Constitution, only natural-born Filipino citizens are qualified to run for president, vice-president, senator and congressman.
But Escudero insisted that Poe is a natural-born Filipino citizen, saying that under the 1987 Charter and international and domestic laws, a foundling found in the Philippines is presumed to have Filipino biological parents.
To say that a foundling like Poe cannot be a citizen of the Philippines is a violation of an individual’s basic and alienable human right to bear a nationality from birth, he added.
Escudero said he expects Carpio, De Castro and Brion to inhibit themselves from deliberation should the SET verdict dismissing the disqualification case is challenged before the SC.
He said it would be a violation of Poe’s right to due process if the three magistrates will be allowed to participate in the appeal of the SET decision before the high court.
“If we look at the procedure, precedents and common practice, the three justices cannot participate in the appeal of the SET decision because they can’t review their own decision,” Escudero pointed out.
“Delicadeza also dictates that the concerned justices inhibit themselves in the event the disqualification case is brought before the SC for final determination,” he added.
On Nov. 17, the SET voted 5-4 to junk the disqualification case filed by defeated senatorial candidate Rizalito David and upheld the natural-born status of Poe, who is seeking the presidency in the May 2016 elections.
Senators Bam Aquino, Pia Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Tito Sotto and Cynthia Villar voted in favor of Poe.
Those who favored David’s petition were the three SC justices and Sen. Nancy Binay, daughter of one of Poe’s rivals in the presidential race, Vice President Jejomar Binay./chizescudero.com; FB: senchizescudero; Twitter: @saychiz @chiznewsalert