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Records show actor Poe could be ineligible for election.

MANILA, Jan. 19 Kyodo

Film icon Fernando Poe, who is President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's fiercest rival in the May presidential elections, could be ineligible to run due to questions over his nationality, a records custodian said Monday.

At the first day of a hearing of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on a petition questioning Poe's citizenship, National Archives director Ricardo Manapat presented papers supposedly buttressing the accusation that Poe is not a natural-born Filipino.

Only natural-born Filipinos can run for president of the Philippines.

The question against Poe's citizenship was brought before Comelec by Victorino and Andresito Fornier, two brothers who are independent lawyers. They claim Poe was born out of wedlock because his parents' marriage occurred while his father, Allan Fernando Poe, was legally married to one Paulita Gomez.

The elder Poe was said to have stated in his marriage certificate to Gomez on July 5, 1936, that he was Spanish. In other documents he stated he was a Filipino citizen.

Under Philippine laws, a child born out of wedlock acquires the citizenship of his or her mother. Poe's mother, Bessie Kelley, is American. Both of Poe's parents are dead.

Manapat presented the Poe-Gomez marriage certificate and Gomez's bigamy complaint against Poe's father to the hearing.

But Poe's campaign manager, Sen. Tito Sotto, said the documents are fabricated.

''Forces are now moving heaven and earth to produce certified true copies of these non-existent documents. Honest and well-meaning public servants whose consciences cannot bear this malicious deceit are ready to give information on how these falsified documents were manufactured and came about,'' Sotto said in a speech at the Senate.

Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos said a decision on the case may come within the week, after both sides have submitted more evidence by Wednesday.

FPJ, as Poe is widely known, is a crowd favorite, drawing thousands wherever he goes.

The 64-year-old high-school dropout is a best friend of deposed former President Joseph Estrada.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Jan 26, 2004
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