The Carpio dissent in the Poe decision

In a strong dissent from the majority opinion, Senior Associate Justice Carpio decries the lack of majority of the Court declaring Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares (Poe) a natural-born Filipino citizen and therefore qualified to run for the presidency. He points out that five justices dissented from the majority while three did not give their opinion on the citizenship of petitioner Poe; hence the lack of majority vote required. The majority vote, in the opinion of J. Carpio, will lead to absurd results, making a mockery of our national elections by allowing a presidential candidate with uncertain citizenship status to be potentially elected to the Office of the President, an office expressly reserved by the Constitution exclusively for natural-born Filipino citizens.

This will make a mockery of our election process if Poe wins the elections but is later disqualified by the Supreme Court for not possessing a basic qualification for the Office of the President -that of being a natural-born Filipino citizen, the dissent warns.

Carpio argues that Poe failed to comply with the essential requirements of citizenship and residency under Section 2, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution. Her certificate of candidacy, wherein she stated that she is qualified for the position of president, contains false material representations, and thus, must be canceled. Petitioner, not being a natural-born Filipino citizen, is also a nuisance candidate whose CoC can motu proprio be canceled by the Comelec under Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code.

Citing Timbol vs. Comelec, the dissent states that the Comelec can initially determine the qualifications of all candidates and disqualify those found lacking any of such qualifications before the conduct of the elections. In fact, the Comelec is empowered to motu proprio cancel CoCs of nuisance candidates. It cannot be argued, according to J. Carpio, that a person, not a natural-born Filipino citizen, who files a certificate of candidacy for president, "put[s] the election process in mockery" and is therefore a nuisance candidate; hence, the Comelec can cancel his/her certificate of candidacy motu proprio under Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code.

Carpio debunks Poe's argument "the pertinent deliberations of the 1934 Constitutional Convention, on what eventually became Article IV of the 1935 Constitution, show that the intent of the framers was not to exclude foundlings from the term "citizens" of the Philippines." Contrary to the assertion of both the Solicitor General and petitioner Poe, the dissent points out that the 1934 Constitutional Convention actually voted upon, and rejected, the proposal to include foundlings as citizens of the Philippines. Further, there is no "silence of the Constitution" on foundlings because the majority of the delegates to the 1934 Constitutional Convention expressly rejected the proposed amendment of Delegate Rafols to classify children of unknown parentage as Filipino citizens. He draws attention to Delegate Buslon's suggestion that the subject matter be left in the hands of the legislature, which meant that Congress would decide whether to categorize as Filipinos (1) natural or illegitimate children of Filipino mothers and alien fathers who do not recognize them; and (2) children of unknown parentage. If that were the case, according to J. Carpio, foundlings were not and could not validly be considered as natural-born Filipino citizens as defined in the Constitution since Congress would then provide the enabling law for them to be regarded as Filipino citizens.

Moreover, the dissent underscores the absence of law or jurisprudence which supports the Solicitor General's contention that natural-born citizenship can be conferred on a foundling based alone on statistical probability. Hence, in the absence of any legal foundation for such argument, the Solicitor General cannot validly conclude that a 99.93 percent (or 99.83 percent) statistical probability that a foundling born in the Philippines is a natural-born Filipino citizen legally confers on such foundling natural-born citizenship.

Neither can petitioner Poe rely on any domestic or international law to buttress her position, Carpio adds. The 1930 Hague Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws, which articulated the presumption on the place of birth of foundlings, was in existence during the deliberations on the 1935 Constitution. Yet the Convention does not guarantee a nationality to a foundling at birth. Simply stated, there was no prevailing customary international law at that time, as there is still none today, conferring automatically a nationality to foundlings at birth. In fact, there is no customary international law presuming a foundling as a citizen of the country where the foundling is found. The dissent stresses that there is no international treaty to which the Philippines is a contracting party, which provides expressly or impliedly that a foundling is deemed a natural-born citizen of the country in which the foundling is found. There is also obviously no international treaty, to which the Philippines is not a party, obligating the Philippines to confer automatically Philippine citizenship to a foundling at birth.

Deviating from the position taken by the majority opinion, the dissent insists that the burden of proving his or her Philippine citizenship lies on him or her who claims to be a citizen of the Philippines. As the burden shifts on petitioner Poe, it is her duty to present evidence to support her claim that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen, and thus eligible to run for President such as DNA evidence.

I hold Justice Carpio in very high regard. He is brilliant, certainly a man of integrity, and definitely a nationalist. I supported him strongly and publicly for Chief Justice to replace Chief Justice Corona when the latter was impeached and convicted. But on the issue of citizenship, I disagree with Justice Carpio. I prefer a liberal approach for both determining natural born citizenship and for ascertaining residence requirements. Human rights trump everything for me and in this case the rights of foundlings and global Filipinos rightly prevailed.

Source: The Standard

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