SENATOR Grace Poe shrugged off Wednesday claims by the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay that she is not fit to seek the presidency in next year's polls due to her residency status.
Poe said she has been in the Philippines since 2005, thus, she surpassed the 10-year residency requirement of the 1987 Constitution for candidates for president and vice president.
"I was here 2005 pa lang. Yung mga anak ko, naka-enroll na sa paaralan, ready po ang transcripts diyan, ready din po ang titulo ng aming kinuhang lugar para matirahan. Pero nilagay ko iyon sapagkat noong 2006 lang naibenta yung bahay namin sa America--April 2006, which can be proven," she told reporters.
If and when Poe decides to run for president, Senate President Franklin Drilon said Poe’s stay in the United States can be counted in the 10-year residency by applying the principle of animus revertendi or the intent to return.
The doctrine has been used by the Supreme Court as a basis to decide in several poll-related cases.
“Meaning, if you’re out of the country or your district but you have the intention to return, your physical presence in the place is not needed to satisfy your residency. As long as you have a plan to return, that will be counted to your residency,” Drilon said.
United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) interim president Toby Tiangco said Tuesday Poe is six months short of the residency requirement as she stated in her certificate of candidacy she was in the country for six years and six months in time for the 2013 elections.
By May 2016, Poe would have been a resident of the country for only nine years and six months.
“Nilagay ko po yun (six months and six days sa certificate of candidacy) dahil nung 2006 lang nabenta ang bahay namin sa Amerika which can be proven. So sabi ko at that time baka naman yun ang ibig nilang sabihin,” she said.
Poe admitted that the attacks on her eligibility to seek higher office might force her to run.
"Aaminin ko po, ngayon nangyayari lahat ito, mas napapadalas ang isip ko dito at pagpaplano. Basta po kung lalabas ako, sabi nga nila 'ilang percent na ba ang iyong desisyon?'. Sabi ko sa tingin ko mga 50 percent at mas lalo pa nilang tinutulak na mapalapit sa 100 percent," she said.
She recalled that residency, competence, experience were the same issues thrown against her father, the late movie actor Fernando Poe Jr., when he ran for the presidency in 2004.
"That was not shocking at all but I was saddened that what was done to the father was also being used against his daughter,” said Poe's friend, Senator Francis Escudero.
Tiangco had said his revelation was not sanctioned by Binay, who reportedly even asked UNA not to divulge it as respect to Poe.
Binay's daughter, Senator Nancy Binay, said the Navotas lawmaker's action surprised her.
“I have nothing to do with that (issue). In fact, I learned about it when I watched (the news) at home. I was shocked because I did not know what Toby (Tiangco) had said. We are not yet discussing the matter and the Vice President was also unaware about it,” she said.
Asked if UNA is threatened that Poe might challenge her father for the presidency, Senator Binay stressed the importance of competence and experience as basis for selecting candidates.
She also reiterated her call to colleagues who have intention to run for higher post to declare as early as now. (Sunnex)