Senator Grace Poe has crawled back to the top of the heap in the race to become the Philippines’ next president, but she may not even be on the ballot come election time next May. In a decision that risks creating “electoral mayhem”, the seven- man election commission yesterday ruled that Ms Poe is not qualified to run for president. It affirmed earlier decisions by two of its divisions that Ms Poe, as a foundling, is not a natural-born Filipino. The 47-year-old senator, long rumoured to be an illegitimate child of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, has been unsuccessful in trying to locate her biological parents. She was abandoned as a baby on the steps of a church in Iloilo city 620km south of the capital Manila. She was later raised by Philippine movie icons Fernando Poe Jr and Susan Roces.
The election commission also concluded Ms Poe had not been a resident of the Philippines for longer than 10 years since she returned from the United States in 2006, where she had lived for most of her adult life and became a US citizen in 2001. She renounced her American citizenship in 2010, after she was appointed head of the government censor board.
The Constitution requires a minimum 10-year residency for those running for president.
At a news conference, the election commission’s chair Andres Bautista said Ms Poe has five days to secure a court order that will allow her to stay in the race.