Philippine frontrunner Grace Poe barred from running for president

Philippine senator Grace Poe has been banned by the Commission on Election from running for presidency.
Philippine senator Grace Poe has been banned by the Commission on Election from running for presidency. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (REUTERS) - A Philippine senator abandoned in a church as a baby and until now the favourite to succeed Benigno Aquino as president was barred on Tuesday (Dec 1) from running.

Three members of the second division of the Commission on Election (Comelec) said Ms Grace Poe could not run for president in elections in May because she fails to meet the 10-year residency requirement.

Ms Poe, a naturalised American, returned to the Philippines when her adoptive father, who ran for president and lost, died in late 2004.

Six years later, she renounced her US citizenship when Mr Aquino appointed her to a government post.

"I am disappointed in the decision, but this is not the end of the process," Ms Poe said in a statement. "I have faith in the process, and we are confident that the Comelec en banc will side with the interest of the people."

Ms Poe's camp said it would appeal against the decision to Comelec before elevating it to the Supreme Court.

Mr Aquino, in power since 2010, is barred under the constitution from seeking a second term.

Under him, the Philippines has seen annual economic growth of more than 6 per cent on average, its best five-year record in four decades. He has also battled to rein in corruption.

The May election will be closely watched by investors, who fear the political succession could derail gains made during Mr Aquino's rule.