SAVE for a satirical piece I wrote last year I have not seriously written about this coming presidential race, especially its latest developments involving the back and forth between Vice President Jojo Binay (with family and cohorts) and Senator Grace Poe. It seems that, according to some so-called surveys, they’re practically tied with Binay slipping down from his top tier and Poe clawing her way up with her charm offensive.
Well, my general take on that is Binay’s corruption woes cannot (and should not) be lived down. Poe, on the other hand does not get much sympathy from me just yet, for so far all I see is a lot of sympathetic oohs and aahs reminiscent of the way Noynoy’s name was floated for the presidency when his mother’s casket was paraded in Metro Manila’s streets.
That hasn’t mattered to me at all and still doesn’t. But I now find myself drawn into this fray because of this most recent offensive by Binay’s personal and political counsel, JV Bautista, using Poe’s being an adopted daughter of Fernando Poe Jr and Susan Roces. Specifically, Bautista pointed to Poe’s being a “foundling” which, by definition, is “an infant that has been abandoned by its parents and is discovered and cared for by others.”
In these days the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) issues a Certificate of Foundling to any such child, an official document that it is in the system, a ward of the state, and is ready for the adoption process. It is signed by the department’s Secretary, no less.
In its effort to question Poe’s qualifications to run against Binay, Bautista asserts that she is not a natural born citizen because she was a foundling. Here’s that part of the Phil. Daily Inquirer’s report:
Can a “foundling” run for President?
United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) interim secretary general JV Bautista said Sen. Grace Poe, apart from questions about her residency, could be disqualified from running for a higher office and even be unseated as a member of the Senate for not being a “natural-born Filipino.”
Poe, an adopted daughter of the late movie actor Fernando Poe Jr. and actress Susan Roces, was abandoned in a church in Jaro, Iloilo province.
Bautista brought up the question of Poe’s citizenship in a news forum in San Juan City a day after UNA interim president and Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco claimed that Poe was not qualified to run for Vice President or President next year because she did not meet the 10-year residency requirement in the Constitution.
“A foundling by definition is stateless,” Bautista said.
Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal has said Poe is considered a Filipino and a natural-born citizen under the United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
But Bautista said that the Philippines was not a signatory to the UN convention.
“There are only acts of compliance by the Philippine government to the convention but we are not a signatory so it never cured the statelessness of a foundling,” Bautista said.
Like I said, I don’t care what Binay, Bautista and Tiangco throw Poe’s way. That’s part of the game. Lawyers like Bautista can use all the convoluted legal mumbo-jumbo all he wants specifically on Poe. Lawyers are like that. It does not and should not make them lesser mortals – or equal to cockroaches – although many times people think they are.
But by using that view as a general principle applied to all foundlings is totally unacceptable. By their very circumstance an abandoned child is disadvantaged not by their choice and for Bautista to label all of them this way – as people who have less rights and privileges as regular folk – for the plain and simple reason that it gives their side a political and personal edge is the lowest of the low. (And I say personal because all of them – VP Binay, his family, Bautista, Tiangco and the rest of their UNA allies – have been raising their personal fortunes and futures on the political career of Jojo Binay).
No, this is not a statement against Poe. This is statement against a particular class of people who are being defined as such and, we can safely assume, will be confined to such a definition if and when Binay, his family and his political allies take the seat of power.
This early the Binay government to be is declaring that in its view, all foundlings are stateless and therefore have no rights as Filipino citizens.
This early we see that Binay, his family and his cohorts will bully their way into the presidency, and once there theirs will be a bully government.