Is the chief magistrate siding with Poe?

DANDAN BANTUGAN COLUMN

At face value, we see nothing wrong with the pronouncements of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno that the Supreme Court’s ruling on petitions against presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe has far-reaching implications beyond politics.
But at the rate she has been pondering questions during the oral arguments on Poe’s case, we tend to think otherwise whether the chief magistrate is siding with the lady senator.
Firstly, Sereno, in questioning Poe’s lawyer Alexander Poblador, argued that if the high court decides against the rights of foundlings, parents will be discouraged from adopting them.
The chief justice emphasized that “what this court is going to say will speak to them (the parents),” Sereno said, addressing Poblador.
“The implication of this case is very profound, not only for your client and actually we can put a blinder on who your client is and just focus on the implication on foundling rights who are being required by the position of petitioners to prove an impossible condition”, Sereno added in her discourse.
With these statements, Poe has expressed hope that the public, as well as the Supreme Court justices, would share Sereno’s view that foundlings like her are natural-born Filipinos.
“We take refuge in the statement of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno fighting hard for the rights of foundlings like me,” said Poe, a presidential aspirant, a day after the high court held oral arguments on the disqualification cases filed against her.
During the oral arguments, Sereno said the Supreme Court can presume-and has presumed in the past-that people, including foundlings, are natural-born Filipinos.
Poe said it “rings loud and clear” that the right of foundlings to a nationality will just be an empty rhetoric unless the government accords it due respect and implements this right.
“I hope that the public and those who will make a final judgment on my case will see things in this light,” said Poe, a foundling adopted by the late actor Fernando Poe Jr. and his wife actress Susan Roces.
The High Tribunal is hearing the decision of the Commission on Elections disqualifying Poe from the 2016 presidential race for not being a natural-born Filipino.
Sereno has warned of dire implications for the country’s foundlings if the SC comes up with a ruling that will strip them of their rights as Filipino citizens.
“If we are going to say that a foundling is not a natural-born Filipino citizen then foundlings in this country cannot hold any of those thousands of offices that were enumerated on the screen,” she said.
“Why can’t the court let things be the way they are? Not deprive foundlings of their rights. Because the moment that the court says that foundlings are not either citizens, not natural-born citizens or are stateless, this will be a degradation of rights that they are already enjoying right now,” she added.
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