Press Release
March 4, 2016


IPIL, ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY - "Those who have less in life should have more in law."

Independent vice-presidential candidate Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero expressed hope that the Supreme Court will uphold this legal principle, popularized by the late President Ramon Magsaysay, when it decides on the fate of his presidential running mate Sen. Grace Poe in a week or two.

Escudero said a decision favorable to Poe would recognize the inherent rights of foundlings to hold high office and remove the social stigma under which hundreds of thousands of abandoned children suffer.

The vice-presidential frontrunner said the government's chief legal counsel, Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, had effectively summed up in his written comment and oral arguments what the ruling of the high court should be if it wanted to uphold the principles of human rights and social justice.

"May dalawang interpretasyon: ang interpretasyon na makakapang-api sa isang tao at interpretasyon na makatutulong sa inaaping tao. Sa pagitan ng dalawang 'yan, ayon sa Solicitor General, dapat ang piliin natin palagi ay 'yung interpretasyon na makatutulong sa inaaping tao," Escudero told a press conference here.

"Dahil ang batas at ang gobyerno ay inimbento para protektahan 'yung inaapi, 'yung konti, 'yung mahirap at hindi kayang ipagtanggol ang kanyang sarili. Sino pa ba 'yun kung hindi ang isang batang pulot o dampot," he added.

Hilbay had earlier defended the rights of foundlings before the SC, asserting that Poe was natural-born and, thus, qualified to run for public office. He said the leading presidential candidate also satisfied the 10-year residency requirement since she had reestablished domicile in the Philippines in May 2005.

In defending the natural-born status of foundlings, Hilbay urged the SC not to commit the error of interpreting the Constitution "without reference to history, structure and social context."

"To deny foundlings the most fundamental of their political rights because their class is not expressly mentioned in the Constitution is a simplistic and lackadaisical way to interpret the Constitution," said the top government lawyer.

Escudero, meanwhile, warned that foundlings could face "secondary trauma" should the SC come up with an adverse ruling.

He said the high court should give justice to foundlings by not stripping them of their natural-born status, which is guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution and international and domestic laws.

No less than Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno had warned of profound implications for foundlings like Poe if the SC will rule that the senator is barred from running for president for not being a natural-born Filipino citizen.

The country's top magistrate said that whatever ruling adopted by the court should not be based on "absurd and extreme interpretation that may be perceived as cruel and unjust."

The SC is scheduled to conduct a full court session on March 9 to tackle Poe's consolidated petition seeking to reverse two decisions of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) canceling her certificate of candidacy for president allegedly due to false material representations regarding her citizenship and residency.

The high tribunal is expected to come out with a decision anytime as it had deemed the case submitted for decision after the parties filed their respective memoranda on Feb. 22.

In the memorandum she filed through her legal team, Poe insisted that the Comelec denied her of her right to due process when it disregarded overwhelming evidence proving that she is a natural-born citizen and that she has been a resident of the Philippines since May 24, 2005.

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