Double malice

In Tecson vs Desiderio, Jr : 161434 : March 3, 2004 : J. Vitug : En Banc you can read the decision of the Supreme Court on Fernando Poe’s being qualified to run for President, in particular,

Where jurisprudence regarded an illegitimate child as taking after the citizenship of its mother, it did so for the benefit the child.  It was to ensure a Filipino nationality for the illegitimate child of an alien father in line with the assumption that the mother had custody, would exercise parental authority and had the duty to support her illegitimate child.,  It was to help the child, not to prejudice or discriminate against him.

The fact of the matter -perhaps the most significant consideration- is that the 1935 Constitution, the fundamental law prevailing on the day, month and year of birth of respondent FPJ, can never be more explicit than it is. Providing neither conditions nor distinctions, the Constitution state s that among the citizens of the Philippines are “those whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines.”? The utterly is no cogent justification to prescribe conditions or distinctions where there clearly are none provided.

From what I understand of the S.C. decision, it basically said FPJ can run because,

a) The S.C. cannot judge a controversy involving presidential elections until after the elections are held;
b) There is no proof that FPJ maliciously, deliberately, wilfuly, lied or deceived anyone, in submitting his certificate for candidacy, and asserting he fulfills the basic requirements to run for president;
c) That on the basis of what has been submitted, it is wrong to think that a child should be penalized for being born illegitimate, when it comes to enjoying and exercising his political rights.

But this does not mean that a challenge cannot be made, later on. This was the reading of TODAY newspaper in its editorial, yesterday, and TODAY is often a good guide to the proper interpretation of the law, specially landmark cases.

I agree with those who condemned the cases lodged against Poe as having been malicious in their intent, because the cases appealed to a negative interpretation of the law, and a narrow one at that. This is not to say that there isn’t a strong legal case against Poe, citizenship-wise; the law may be perverted to suit certain parties, but perverting the law requires, in my view, something in the law that can be perverted in the first place. For example, there are cases that upon superficial reading, do suit the anti-Poe view; but as the S.C. clarified, the law is best viewed from a positive light, in this case, that the law should be interpreted to benefit a child to the utmost, in particular when it comes to political and civil rights.

Why do I say the whole thing involves double malice? If the anti Poe cases are motivated by a malicious intent, that is, to try to argue along technicalities in order to eliminate someone politically, still, the defenders of Poe also resorted to equally dastardly methods, such as the kangaroo hearings in the Senate and, I still suspect, creating a controversy in order to launch a first strike against anyone of possible use to the opponents of Poe. Two wrongs do not make a right.

The Court has postoponed the debacle; another confrontation remains, and chances are, it will be attempted.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

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