Philippines: Ruling returns favorite to presidential race
Filipinos offered mixed reaction Wednesday to a decision by the country's Supreme Court to allow an independent candidate who until recently had been disqualified from running for president in the May 9 election back into the race.

While some applauded the decision to allow Senator Grace Poe -- a one-time orphan who renounced her U.S. citizenship to enter politics -- to reenter the race others expressed shock about the result.

"A perfect recipe for chaos. The Constitution was bastardized. The people will never accept it. We will file a motion for reconsideration as soon as it becomes official," Lawyer Manuelito Luna, counsel for former senator Francisco Tatad, who filed disqualification case against Poe, was reported to have said.

The 47-year-old senator had been disqualified since last December by the country’s elections commission on the grounds that she was not a natural-born citizen and did not have the 10 years of Filipino residency required of presidential candidates.

At that stage, Poe was a front-runner in the polls.

But on Tuesday she was able to tell supporters that the decision to exclude her had been overturned by the country’s most senior panel of judges.

"The SC [Supreme Court] grants Senator Poe’s petitions, allowing her to run for the presidency,” Court spokesman Theodore Te was quoted saying in the Philippine Star.

But Te could not say if the decision covers both the citizenship and residency issues.

He said that the ruling was not final, and subject to a motion for reconsideration, which should be filed within 15 days.

GMA News reported that two of the private petitioners against Poe expressed shock Wednesday about the result.

Luna described the decision as "dangerous."

Last year, Tatad and three other petitioners submitted a petition claiming Poe, being a foundling, is not a natural-born Filipino.

"Although I've been hearing about this scenario, I am still shocked because the law is so clear. I cannot comment beyond that because I have not read the Decision," Luna said.

Fellow petitioner University law professor Antonio Contreras also claimed that the decision was a loss for the rule of law.

"I will try to respect the decision that I vehemently reject. Nine members of the Court decided to reverse the well-established jurisprudence on residence. I pity those who were disqualified earlier who were similarly situated as her," he wrote on his Facebook account.

"It is surely one of the lowest point in the history of our country."

For her part, Poe thanked the Supreme Court (SC) for the 9-6 ruling to grant her petition to reverse the Commission on Elections decision to cancel her Certificate of Candidacy in the elections.

Poe told reporters in Manila during an International Women’s Day event organized by the women's group Gabriela: ”I want to thank also the Supreme Court for recognizing the truth, justice and, most of all, protection for the oppressed."

Abandoned by her biological parents in 1968 in a church, Poe was legally an adopted foundling by Fernando Poe Jr., a well-respected Philippine movie actor turned presidential contender in 2004.

She topped the senatorial race when she first ran in 2013.

Her father lost that election, which was widely believed to have been rigged by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Poe migrated to the U.S. to finish college and start a family, and later became a naturalized U.S. citizen and then a dual citizen in 2006.

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Last Modified: 2016-03-09 15:15:27
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