MANILA - Senator and presidential aspirant Miriam Defensor Santiago believes one of her rivals in the 2016 polls, Senator Grace Poe, is not a natural-born Filipino.
Speaking to radio DZMM's "Ikaw Na Ba: The DZMM Presidential Candidate Interview," Santiago said the Constitution is very clear on the requirements for those running for higher office.
"Malaki ang problema niya kasi nakalagay sa ating Constitution, ang requirements for president and vice-president halos pareho...In all of these provisions, the requirement is a natural- born Filipino. The Constitution says a natural-born Filipino is one who becomes a Filipino citizen even without undertaking any act," she said.
Asked if she considers Poe a natural-born Filipino, Santiago said: "No, she is not. I am sorry to say."
Santiago noted that Poe's parents, not just her relatives, must be Filipino for her to be considered a natural-born Filipino.
Poe, a foundling who was adopted by actors Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces, is facing disqualification cases before the Commission on Elections for not being a natural-born Filipino and for not having been a resident of the Philippines for 10 years as required by the Constitution.
Poe has said that based on international law, her parents are presumed Filipino since she was found in the Philippines.
READ: A foundling named Grace
Santiago said Poe's interpretation on her natural-born status "is not the interpretation of constitutional law."
"International law does not apply in our country unless we pass a law in Congress that says we adopt this customary international law as part of our own law here," she said.
She also pointed out that Poe was a "dual citizen, both Filipino and American."
Santiago noted the Comelec 2nd Division has ruled to disqualify Poe for failing to meet the 10-year residency requirement for presidential candidates. Poe's camp has vowed to appeal the decision.
Santiago said that it is up to the Comelec if it wants to include Poe's name in the official ballot, especially since the Comelec 2nd Division's decision is not yet final and executory.
DUTERTE TAKING A GAMBLE, SAYS MIRIAM
Meanwhile, the senator also believes that another presidential aspirant, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, is taking a gamble by revealing his faults as a womanizer and giving "colorful" speeches even before the official campaign period starts.
Duterte has come under fire for an expletive-laden speech Monday that included cursing Pope Francis. The mayor later admitted he regrets his actions and that he should have explained better his point on the alleged incompetence of the government in handling the traffic problems in the metropolis.
READ: Duterte under fire for cursing Pope Francis
Santiago described Duterte's language as "usapan sa kanto."
"Well, let us see. He is taking a gamble. Normally, you'd sanitize your language if you are going to appear before the public. But in this case, he is attracting public attention. Some are scandalized. Some are considering it's just part of normal reality. This is a revelation of his personality. Not everybody talks like that," she said.
In the US, she said there have been candidates who tried to hide their pasts as womanizers. "Naturally, when the truth was revealed, it was even more effective in destroying the candidate," she said.
Santiago said any of her rivals in the presidential race could be president. Asked who she would support if ever she decided to back out from the race, she said she would choose Liberal Party standard bearer Mar Roxas.
The senator said the person elected president should come from a good school and should have experience in the profession he or she follows.
She said a presidential candidate should also have accomplishments that are considered praiseworthy by his or her peers.