Not Alma Moreno’s fault

Poor Alma Moreno. She didn’t know what she was getting into when she agreed to be interviewed by news anchor Karen Davila. Even the most seasoned politician could be walking into the lioness’ den when they do an interview with Ms. Davila, ANC’s most astute anchor whose follow-up questions drawn from your own answers can put you in a spot.

As said earlier, it’s not the former movie star’s fault that she finds herself out of her depth. I’m not even going to run embarrassing excerpts of that dreadful, humiliating interview. The fault lies with the party of Vice President Jejomar Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance for drafting Ms. Moreno for senator in the first place. From Parañaque City councilor to the Senate? That’s not a high jump; that’s a pole vault!

UNA officials insult the intelligence of the electorate when they try to foist someone on the voters simply on what it perceives as the vote-pulling power of the candidate. But even that perception is off the mark. Alma Moreno is no Vilma Santos who has proven herself a worthy governor of Batangas and who was even considered as running mate for Liberal Party presidential candidate Mar Roxas.

But enough of Alma Moreno. Let’s spare the poor woman the grief for over reaching the level of her competence as city councilor. Let’s go to why Jojo Binay should be shocked that Mar Roxas has dislodged him from second place in recent surveys. 

Binay’s political woes can all be traced to the year-long Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing the allegedly anomalous construction of the Makati parking building and other rigged city contracts.It may be a demolition job as claimed by the Veep but what Senators Antonio Trillanes, Alan Peter Cayetano and Koko Pimentel uncovered during the lengthy Senate hearing provided enough ground for the Office of the Ombudsman to file charges against Binay and son Junjun. Junior was not only suspended as Makati mayor but also dismissed from office.   

If Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte gets the Commission on Elections’ green light to substitute for party mate Martin Dino as PDP-Laban presidential candidate, Binay could even be pushed down further as voters preferred choice to succeed President Benigno Aquino III. Despite being ambivalent about his presidential bid, Duterte continues to stoke the interest of voters. He could, again IF the Comelec allows his substitute run, even overtake Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas at second place. Duterte decided to run because he said he could not allow “an American to be president of the country.” This was right after Grace Poe narrowly escaped being unseated as senator by the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) by a vote of 5 to 4. Poe’s residency/citizenship challenge has been elevated to the Supreme Court. This is apart from the same case pending before the Comelec.

Although the high court is the final arbiter of Poe’s citizenship issue, the Comelec case is crucial. If resolved by mid-December, it would determine whether the senator’s name would be printed or not on the ballot as presidential candidate in 2016. This is when one can say time is of the essence. Will the foundling Grace Poe’s long journey from an Iloilo church door reach all the way to Malacañang, or will it end at the Comelec offices in Intramuros?

If it weren’t for Senator Pia Cayetano’s tie-breaker vote, Grace Poe’s story would have ended at the Senate. Senators Tito Sotto, Cynthia Villar, Paolo “Bam” Aquino and Loren Legarda can hardly be expected to know the law. They voted along partisan lines and to get in the good graces of Poe in the event she hurdles all the barriers and become president.

But Pia? Was it because she is the sponsor of a Senate Bill on foundlings according them all the rights and protection under her proposed law? It is certainly a good law if passed. But it is not yet a law. The issue at bar is whether Grace Poe is a  Filipino citizen qualified to run as president under the rules of the Constitution.

Senator Pia Cayetano is a barrister and surely knows the Philippines has not signed the United Nations convention on the law on foundlings which states that where found,  the child is presumed to be a citizen of that place or country.         

Until and unless ratified by the Philippines, there is no basis for accepting Grace Poe is a natural born Filipino. A non-lawyer, Poe had the sense she is standing on soft legal ground which was why she went to great lengths to trace her relatives in Iloilo for possible DNA match.

Poe is also aware of her predicament and the urgency for her name to be included by the Comelec in the printing of ballots  which was why she petitioned the court for the two cases at the Comelec and the Supreme Court be consolidated. This was denied.  A favorable ruling to consolidate the two citizenship cases would have bought her time to be in the ballot and leaving it to the voters to decide her fate.

Topics: Alejandro del Rosario , Alma Moreno
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