The Commission on Elections (Comelec) Second Division has disqualified Senator Grace Poe from the 2016 presidential race for failing to meet requirements of the Constitution for presidential candidates.
In a 34-page resolution, the three-member division granted the petition of lawyer Estrella Elamparo seeking the cancellation of Poe's certificate of candidacy for president.
"An aspirant for the highest position in the land must strictly adhere to the provisions of the highest law of the land — the Constitution," the resolution read.
"We would have wanted to declare the respondent eligible to seek the highest position in the land within the gift of our people. After all, she is not only popular; she is, potentially, a good leader.
"However, it is our bounden duty to resolve this case by applying the Constitution, law, jurisprudence, and none other."
The division sided with Elamparo's argument that Poe failed to meet the 10-year residency requirement mandated by the Constitution for a presidential candidate.
"Wherefore, in view of all the foregoing considerations, the instant Petition to Deny Due Course to or Cancel Certificate of Candidacy is hereby granted," the division said in its resolution.
"Accordingly, the Certificate of Candidacy for President of the Republic of the Philippines in the May 9, 2016 National and Local Elections filed by respondent Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe Llamanzares is hereby cancelled," it added.
The members of the division are Commissioners Al Parreño, who penned the resolution, Arthur Lim, and Sheriff Abas.
The Comelec division said Poe, who has been leading presidential preference polls over the past several months, became a resident only on July 2006 when she applied for dual citizenship, or two months short of meeting the 10-year residency rule.
The division also said Poe "deliberately attempted to mislead or misinform the electorate or hide a fact from them when she supplied the answer '10 years and 11 months' to the question" on her period of residence in the Philippines in her COC."
Not a natural-born Filipino
The resolution also contended that Poe, a foundling was not a natural-born Filipino.
"Nowhere in any of the three Constitutions of the Philippines is there a direct or indirect inclusion of a foundling as a natural-born Filipino citizen, or a Filipino at birth," the resolution read.
It added that there is no constitutional or legal basis to consider a foundling as a natural-born citizen.
However, the division agreed with Poe that "the citizenship issue involving foundlings is a question of first impression in that, to our best knowledge, there is no jurisprudence on the issue."
It added that unless the issue is definitively resolved by the Supreme Court, Poe's assertion that she is a natural-born citizen is made in good faith.
"Hence, we are not prepared to rule that on the citizenship issue she deliberately attempted to mislead, misinform, or hide a material fact from the electorate," the ruling read.
Poe, for her part, expressed dismay over the decision.
"I am disappointed in the decision, but this is not the end of the process. We will continue to fight for the rights of foundlings and the fundamental right of the people to choose their leaders," Poe said in a statement.
"I maintain that I am a natural born Filipino and have complied with the ten-year residency requirement based on settled applicable jurisprudence," she added.
Poe compared the issues against her to the disqualification cases filed against her adoptive father, Fernando Poe Jr., when he ran for president in 2004.
"My critics will use any excuse to exclude me, much like they tried to do when FPJ ran for president, and in the process disenfranchising the people as well. They show a lack of trust in the ability of Filipinos to make the right decision," Poe said.
"I have faith in the process, and we are confident that the Comelec en banc will side with the interest of the people," she added.
Poe's camp insisted that she became a resident in May 2005.
"Yung 10-year residency should be counted from the reacquisition of Philippine citizenship, meaning dapat sa 2006, which is noong hearing namin ay maliwanag na maliwanag na napatunayan namin na may residency si Sen. Grace Poe as early as 2005, May 25," said Poe's lawyer George Garcia, adding that she is also a natural-born Filipino.
Poe's camp said they will appeal the decision within five days before the Comelec en banc.
Elamparo's petition was just one of the four seeking to disqualify Poe from the presidential race. —Amita O. Legaspi and Joseph Morong/KBK, GMA News