MANILA - Senator Bam Aquino on Saturday said that political affiliations did not hinder him from voting in favor of Senator Grace Poe on the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) case questioning her citizenship.
Aquino said the Liberal Party (LP) left him free to deem Poe as a natural-Filipino who is eligible for public office.
"In fairness to the party naman, walang nakialam, walang kumausap, walang sumubok na impluwensyahan ang aking decision. Talagang they allowed me to make a decision na base sa aking prinispyo at konsensya," Aquino said.
Poe is running for president in 2016, opposite LP standard bearer Mar Roxas, among other candidates.
The SET, voting 5-4, dismissed the petition of David to disqualify Poe on the grounds that she is not a natural-born Filipino because of her status as a foundling.
Aquino and senators Loren Legarda, Pia Cayetano, Cynthia Villar and Vicente Sotto III voted in favor of Poe.
Aquino said he cast a "conscience vote" favoring Poe because doing otherwise would mean deeming other foundlings as stateless or naturalized citizens.
"Iyun talaga ang medyo mabigat na because of an electoral case, iyung libo-libong foundling at lahat ng ipapanganak pa na foundling, mag-iiba iyung status nila from natural born to either naturalized or stateless," he said.
Stripping foundlings of their natural born status will limit opportunities for them, Aquino argued.
"Isipin mo, you're in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, for example, foundling ka, kapag na-decide kang ganyan, kailangan kang umalis kasi ang pagiging part ng armed forces, iyung natural born ay requirement," Aquino pointed out.
"At the end of the day, kung iba ang desisyon, hindi lang si Grace Poe ang may problema--libo-libong Pilipino na foundling. Isipin mo sila na nga ang na-abandon na mga bata, lumaki na, nagkaroon ng trabaho, nagkaroon ng pangarap tapos ngayon, tatanggalan po ng pangarap, lilimitahan mo ang opportunities nila. Parang hindi rin naman tama," he added.
Aquino also cited international laws and the 1935 Constitution in justifying that Poe is a natural-born citizen.
The SET's ruling on the case may still be questioned by David through a motion for reconsideration and an appeal to the Supreme Court.
READ: Poe's counsel tells David: Move on