Senator Grace Poe says she's qualified to run in Philippines' elections

Senator Grace Poe says she's qualified to run in Philippines' elections
Grace under pressure: Grace Poe answers questions about her citizenship and eligibility for the presidency a day after the opposition questioned her qualifications for the office.

"I'm qualified," Sen. Grace Poe declared on Wednesday. She said she had not announced her candidacy, but "why are they so afraid of me?"

Poe was referring to the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) party of Vice President Jejomar Binay, which seemed to have started trying to derail her candidacy even before she could decide to run for any office in next year's elections.

On Tuesday, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, interim president of UNA, claimed that Poe could not run for Vice President, much less President, because she did not meet the constitutional requirement of 10 years' residency immediately prior to the election.

Tiangco dug up Poe's certificate of candidacy (COC) for senator in the 2013 elections in which she wrote that she had been a resident of the Philippines for six years and six months.

Going by that information, Poe would be a resident of the Philippines for only nine years and six months by election day 2016-six months short of the constitutional requirement.

Poe lived in the United States for 13 years and returned to the Philippines after her father, the movie actor Fernando Poe Jr., died in December 2004.

Speaking to reporters before the start of the Senate session on Wednesday afternoon, Poe said she wrote in her COC, which she filed in 2012, "six years and six months" because it was only in April 2006 that her US home was sold.

But she had proof that she had been living in the Philippines for more than 10 years, she said.

Poe said she had been living here since February 2005 and she could prove that, as her children began to go to school in the country in June of that year.

She said her family bought a house here in 2005 as a temporary residence while a more permanent house was under construction.

"As of today, I exceed the residency requirement," she said.

But why raise the question of her residency when she has not even said she would run for higher office in 2016, she said.

"I will answer that if I will file my candidacy," she said, adding that it was not the question that got her goat.

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