Remains of 3 suspected parents of Poe exhumed

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN. Sen. Grace Poe, a presidential candidate, finds solace at Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral in Iloilo City, where 47 years ago she was left as a newborn, with her biological parents unknown to this day.

ILOILO CITY —The remains of a woman and two men “suspected” to be the biological parents of Sen. Grace Poe have been exhumed on Guimaras Island to gather specimens for DNA testing.

Cemetery workers as well as family members exhumed the skeletal remains of Victoria Rodriguez and two males at the Barangay East Valencia cemetery in Buenavista town on Wednesday, according to a source privy to the exhumation.

Bone samples were taken before the remains were reburied.

DNA samples were also taken from nine persons—six Rodriguez family members and three from the family of the “suspected” father on Tuesday.

The samples will be taken to Manila to supplement DNA samples earlier taken from three members of the Rodriguez family.

Siblings of Victoria Rodriguez have claimed that Poe could be the baby of their sister. They said the baby was brought to Iloilo City and eventually adopted by entertainers Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces.

As this developed, the cash reward being offered for information on the possible biological parents of Poe has gone up to P355,000 after a ship captain and a doctor promised to give a total of P55,000 to anyone who can provide “solid” information.

Jesus Nograles Rodriguez Jr. (no relation to the Rodriguez family from Guimaras), a retired labor judge who is based in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, earlier offered the P300,000 reward.

Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian confirmed that the bodies of the members of the Rodriguez clan had been exhumed in order to get DNA samples.

He said Poe’s lawyers had “made arrangements for DNA samples to be taken” from the remains of her possible parents.

A forensic pathologist hired by the Poe camp “needed more DNA samples,” he explained.

Gatchalian said Poe was “saddened” that the remains of her possible parents had to be exhumed just to prove that she is a natural-born Filipino and hurdle the legal obstacles to her presidential candidacy.
“I am saddened that it had to come to this just to prove my citizenship,” Gatchalian quoted Poe as saying.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has ordered the cancellation of Poe’s certificate of candidacy for not being a natural-born Filipino and failing to meet the 10-year residency requirement for presidential candidates.

However, the Supreme Court issued two temporary restraining orders stopping the Comelec from implementing its two separate decisions disqualifying Poe from the presidential race.

According to Gatchalian, the members of the Rodriguez family had approached Poe when she last visited Iloilo and told her that they could be her missing kin.

He said the Rodriguezes had “offered for the exhumation of the bodies of Senator Poe’s supposed biological parents.”

“The Rodriguez family offered this option because they also wanted to know the truth once and for all,” he said.

Gatchalian clarified that the Rodriguez family were communicating and making arrangements with Poe’s lawyers and not directly with her.

Maritime Capt. Eduardo Gargaritano and Dr. Karen Gambito-Galvan were the latest to offer P55,000 for “solid” information on Poe’s parentage.

“I know that the amount I am contributing is not much, but this represents my family’s earnest hope that Senator Poe finds the identity of her true parents and perhaps living blood relatives here in Iloilo or wherever they are really from,” said Gargaritano, who is from Guimbal, Iloilo, in a statement.

Gargaritano, who is out of the country and could not be reached through his mobile phone and e-mail, is putting up P25,000 while Galvan will give P30,000.

“It’s a small amount. I really don’t want to make a big deal about it because we only want to help Senator Poe and put an end to all the questions,” Galvan told the Inquirer in a telephone interview.
“Who knows? It’s been a long time already and there’s a need to find closure,” she said.

Galvan said she wanted to help Poe because her father, Basilio Gambito, ran for the lone congressional seat of Aklan in 2004 under the ticket of the late Fernando Poe Jr., the senator’s adoptive father.

Galvan also ran but lost in Aklan’s gubernatorial race in 2007 under Partido ng Masang Pilipino.
In the statement, Galvan said she would suggest that Rodriguez open a bank account where the reward money can be held in escrow.

Reached for comment, Rodriguez said he was unaware of the reward offer of Gargaritano and Galvan, and welcomed other voluntary reward offers, but did want to be involved in the collection of reward offers or the opening of a bank account for that purpose.

“I’m not accepting donations because I’m not a mercenary,” he said.

He said the P300,000 reward he was offering will come from his own pocket and from personal contributions of his six golf buddies.

The popular account is that the senator was abandoned and later found in the baptismal font of the Jaro Cathedral in Iloilo City in 1968. She was later adopted by the Poes.

The Militar family from Jaro District in Iloilo was earlier believed to be Poe’s biological family, but DNA tests conducted on them turned out negative.