The Philippine Supreme Court has ruled that Senator Grace Poe, who spent much of her life in the United States, is eligible to run for president.
The 9-6 ruling Tuesday reverses a decision by the election commission and allows Poe to reclaim her position as front-runner in a tight race to succeed President Benigno Aquino, Reuters reports.
Poe, 47, was abandoned as a child in a church and adopted by an action movie hero.
She moved to the United States when she was a student and settled there.
Poe had been leading opinion polls, but questions about her citizenship allowed three of her four rivals to catch up.
“This is a victory for the Filipino people, for those oppressed … a victory for women,” Poe told a cheering crowd at an International Women’s Day celebration at a park in Manila.
“Women’s role goes beyond looking after homes, we can do a lot of things. Let’s make 2016 the year when women triumph in government.”
The election is being closely watched by investors, who fear the political succession could derail average economic growth of more than 6 percent a year and efforts made under Aquino to crack down on corruption.
Aquino’s chosen successor, former interior minister Manuel Roxas, is lagging behind in opinion polls, coming third behind Poe and Vice President Jejomar Binay, who was in a statistical tie with Poe in the latest independent poll.
Poe has campaigned on a pro-poor campaign, promising to build on Aquino’s programs of creating jobs and building infrastructure.
Edmund Tayao, a political science professor at the University of Santo Tomas, said the court ruling could boost Poe’s numbers by at least 10 points, raising her chances of winning the election in May.
Poe, a former teacher, spent much of her adult life in Fairfax, Virginia, marrying an American of Philippine origin.
She returned to the Philippines in late 2004 after her adoptive father, Fernando Poe, died shortly after an unsuccessful run for the presidency.
Grace Poe topped the Philippine senatorial race in 2013, running on his legacy.
Election officials had disqualified her for the presidential race on the grounds that she had failed to meet a 10-year residency requirement.
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