Grace's 'first mom' insists Poe a Filipino

Bea Zaragosa, ABS-CBN News

ILOILO - Sayong Militar, the woman who took care of Senator Grace Poe as an abandoned infant, has returned to the Philippines in a bid to help the lawmaker reverse her disqualification from the presidential race.

The 89-year-old Militar, who resides in California, countered presumptions that Poe is not a natural-born citizen because of her foundling status.

Speaking to ABS-CBN News, she said, "All they're telling are lies. I'm very sure that she is a Filipino citizen. When I got her, her [umbilical] cord was still bleeding. I know she was really born here in the Philippines."

Militar's husband found the newborn at the Jaro Cathedral in Iloilo in September 1968.

After months without anyone claiming the infant, Militar took the baby to the late Jaime Cardinal Sin who baptized her Mary Grace Natividad Contreras Militar.

Militar said her family adored and treated Grace as one of their own for two years.

But overwhelmed by the responsibility of rearing six children, the baby was passed on to the haciendera Tessie Ledesma Valencia, a close relative of Militar's employers.

Valencia was friends with the late action king Fernando Poe Jr. and his wife, veteran actress Susan Roces. The couple eventually adopted Grace when she was nearly six years old.

READ: A foundling named Grace

Militar and her two children met Sen. Poe last January 27 and handed her a video of Sayong's testimonies. They also gave Poe her baby photos taken with their family, her original birth and baptismal certificates, and her umbilical cord.

The Militars, however, declined to comment about a family in Guimaras claiming that they are blood relatives of the senator. The Militars will return abroad this week.

READ: Bodies of Poe's 'biological' parents exhumed

Poe underwent a DNA test in September 2015 with another family in Iloilo. The DNA test, which was supposed to show that she was born to Filipino parents, yielded negative results.

READ: Grace Poe seeks special protection for 'foundlings'

The Supreme Court is still hearing arguments on the disqualification handed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to Poe.

READ: Poe takes refuge in Sereno's statement on foundlings

Poe recently regained the lead in a presidential survey released by Pulse Asia last Saturday.