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Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares (a.k.a. Grace Poe) was found abandoned as a newborn infant in the Parish Church of Jaro, Iloilo in 1968. At age 5, she was adopted by celebrity spouses Ronald Allan Kelly Poe (a.k.a Fernando Poe, Jr.) and Jesus Sonora Poe (a.k.a Susan Roces).

She initially pursued a degree in Developmental Studies at the University of the Philippines but opted to continue her studies abroad and left for the United States of America (U.S.) in 1988. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1991 after her marriage to Theodore Llamanzares, who was based in the U.S. at the time. In 2001, she became a naturalized American citizen and obtained an American passport.

In 2004, Grace Poe returned to the Philippines to support her father’s candidacy for President. However, after a few months, she rushed back to the Philippines upon learning of her father’s deteriorating medical condition, who slipped into a coma and eventually expired. In her desire to be with her grieving mother, she and her husband decided to move and reside permanently in the Philippines in 2005. 

On 7 July 2006, Grace Poe took her Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines pursuant to the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003. The BI declared that she is deemed to have reacquired her Philippine citizenship while her children are considered as citizens of the Philippines. Consequently, the BI issued Identification Certificates (ICs) in her name and in the names of her three children.

In 2010, President Benigno S. Aquino III appointed Grace Poe as Chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB). Before assuming her post, she executed an “Affidavit of Renunciation of Allegiance to the United States of America and Renunciation of American Citizenship” before a notary public in Pasig City on 20 October 2010, in satisfaction of the legal requisites stated in Section 5 of R.A. No. 9225. The following day, she submitted the said affidavit to the BI and took her oath of office as Chairperson of the MTRCB. From then on, Grace Poe stopped using her American passport.

On 2 October 2012, she filed with the COMELEC her Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for Senator for the 2013 Elections wherein she answered “6 years and 6 months” to the question “Period of residence in the Philippines before May 13, 2013.” She obtained the highest number of votes and was proclaimed Senator on 16 May 2013.

On 15 October 2015, Grace Poe filed her COC for the Presidency for the May 2016 Elections. In her COC, Grace Poe declared that she is a natural-born citizen and that her residence in the Philippines up to the day before 9 May 2016 would be ten (10) years and eleven (11) months counted from 24 May 2005.

Her filing of her COC for President in the upcoming elections triggered the filing of several COMELEC cases against her which were the subject of these consolidated cases.

These cases argued that Grace Poe cannot be considered as a natural-born Filipino on account of the fact that she was a foundling, and that international law does not confer natural-born status and Filipino citizenship on foundlings. They also argued that she fell short of the ten-year residency requirement of the Constitution as her residence could only be counted at the earliest from July 2006, when she reacquired Philippine citizenship under the said Act.


  1. Should Grace Poe-Llamanzares be considered a natural-born Filipino citizen, despite foundlings not being mentioned in the enumeration of citizens under the 1935 Constitution?
  2. Does Grace Poe satisfy the 10-year residency requirement of the Constitution?


  • YES. The fact is that Grace Poe’s blood relationship with a Filipino citizen is DEMONSTRABLE.
    1. Statistics from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that from 1965 to 1975, the total number of foreigners born in the Philippines was 15,986 while the total number of Filipinos born in the country was 10,558,278. The statistical probability that any child born in the Philippines in that decade is natural-born Filipino was 99.83%.
    2. Grace Poe has typical Filipino features: height, flat nasal bridge, straight black hair, almond shaped eyes and an oval face.
    3. All of the foregoing evidence would indicate more than ample probability if not statistical certainty, that Grace Poe’s parents are Filipinos. 
    4. To deny full Filipino citizenship to all foundlings and render them stateless just because there may be a theoretical chance that one among the thousands of these foundlings might be the child of not just one, but two, foreigners is downright discriminatory, irrational, and unjust. As a matter of law, foundlings are as a class, natural-born citizens. While the 1935 Constitution’s enumeration is silent as to foundlings, there is no restrictive language which would definitely exclude foundlings either.
    5. Parenthetically, the burden of proof was on private respondents to show that Grace Poe is not a Filipino citizen. The private respondents should have shown that both of her biological parents were aliens. 

  • YES. Grace Poe’s claim that she will have been a resident for ten (10) years and eleven (11) months on the day before the 2016 elections, is true. This period of residence corresponds to a beginning date of 25 May 2005 when she returned for good from the U.S.
    1. To successfully effect a change of domicile, one must demonstrate a bona fide intention of abandoning the former place of residence and establishing a new one. The purpose to remain in or at the domicile of choice must be for an indefinite period of time; the change of residence must be voluntary; and the residence at the place chosen for the new domicile must be actual.
    2. Grace Poe’s evidence is overwhelming and taken together leads to no other conclusion that she decided to permanently abandon her U.S. residence (selling the house, taking the children from U.S. schools, getting quotes from the freight company, notifying the U.S. Post Office of the abandonment of their address in the U.S., donating excess items to the Salvation Army, her husband resigning from U.S. employment right after selling the U.S. house).
    3. Grace Poe entered the Philippines visa-free as a balikbayan. Balikbayans are able to stay in the country visa-free for one year. This gives them ample time to re-establish their lives and reintegrate themselves into the community before they attend to the necessary formal and legal requirements of repatriation. And that is exactly what Grace Poe did – she reestablished life here by enrolling her children and buying property while awaiting the return of her husband and then applying for repatriation shortly thereafter.

The petition was thus GRANTED. MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD SONORA POE-LLAMANZARES is DECLARED QUALIFIED to be a candidate for President in the National and Local Elections of 9 May 2016.

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