Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Sen. Grace Poe's disquailification and the ageing of our Constitution

The first day of December would be the last for Sen. Grace Poe's presidential campaign: GMA News - Comelec division disqualifies Poe from 2016 presidential race. There is no contest, the 1987 Constitution clearly states, and so much insists that right below "Section 1. The executive power shall be vested in the President of the Philippines." Section 2 states "No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines...". Unfortunately for Sen. Poe, who is the adopted daughter of Fernando Poe, Jr. and Susan Roces, the humiliating DNA testing gave an even more damning result, she cannot prove her Filipino parentage (and how could she, she's a foundling!).

What Sen. Poe can do at this point is to open the debate for constitutional reform in Congress, or what we deliciously call CHArter CHAnge (cha-cha, get it?). It is high time that we question our 28-year old Constitution, what is the basis that ONLY natural-born Filipinos are fit for the highest office of the land? Are we given divine birth-right to governance that other ethnicities do not possess? Hypothetically, if US actress Tia Carrere (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tia_Carrere) - definitely natural-born Filipina, decides to live in Philippines for 10 years and out of the blue, runs for president in 2028, the Constitution says she is more qualified than Sen. Poe WILL EVER BE by birth-right (don't believe me? read the Article VII here)

In all fairness, in the said COMELEC resolution, they contested more on the issue on the aspirant's 10-year residency. But really, Sen. Poe is nearing her full-term in the Senate (that is, 6 years) with, while not an exceptional record, a transparent and honest one. With my hypothetical question above, isn't a 6-year time as a Senator more than qualified compared to a full 10-year doing something else?

I guess my abject criticism in this issue is, we absolutely follow what the Constitution says with no contest. However, we can question and reform it for the betterment of the future generation. Our current Constitution is nothing short of racist and bigoted, because what else do you call something that labels people as "natural race" or not? It is not surprising, Filipinos are proudly racist - we nonchalantly laugh at dark-skinned indigenous neighbours and those with African ancestry (before we had those descended from African-Americans, we also had some share with African slaves from Latin Americas and Caribbeans during the Spanish colonization: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Spanish_Slavery_in_the_Philippines). Isn't this great shame for our children to be forced to practice this?

So, Sen. Poe, while you will definitely not be a President, you can spearhead Cha-cha and update our obsolete Constitution. And you couldn't do that as President but only as a member of Congress. So it may have been God's will that you stay in the Senate and advocate basic human rights for foundlings and people of different ancestry.

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