UN agency: SC ruling on Poe a victory for foundlings, stateless
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Philippines has welcomed the Supreme Court’s (SC) landmark ruling “favoring foundlings as citizens,” referring to the high tribunal’s decision to allow Sen. Grace Poe to run for president in the May polls.
UNHCR country representative Bernard Kerblat highlighted that the Philippines has a “strong humanitarian tradition of international protection in support of those at risk of being stateless” amid global discrimination against foundlings.
“The Philippines was the first country in the Southeast Asia to become party to the 1954 Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons, which defines who is considered stateless and establishes minimum standards of treatment,” Kerblat said in a statement.
“Today 10 million people around the world are without any clearly defined link to an established nationality. A child is born stateless every ten minutes. They are denied their basic rights. They have no freedom of movement, no access to education, social services, employment and to own property,” he added.
In a 9-6 vote, the high court declared that Poe is qualified to run for the highest elective post in the land, noting that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen and a resident of the country for 10 years.
Kerblat said the “significant” SC decision was an “important step” in the country’s history.
“[T]he Philippines is a shining example of humanitarianism in taking concrete steps to reduce statelessness in the region. It sets a positive example that member states may wish to follow,” he said.
“UNHCR commends the Government of the Philippines for its ongoing efforts to consider acceding to the 1961 Convention, which establishes an international framework to ensure the right of every person to a nationality by establishing safeguards to prevent statelessness,” Kerblat added.
Poe, the adopted daughter of movie stars Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces, was abandoned as a baby at a church in Jaro, Iloilo in 1968. She became an American citizen in 2001 after residing for more than a decade in the United States before returning to the Philippines in 2005 following the death of her father.
She reacquired her Filipino citizenship in 2006 and renounced her US citizenship in 2010 upon her appointment as chair of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.
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