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Poe undaunted by Comelec ruling

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista explains the disqualification case of Sen. Grace Poe during a press conference yesterday. EDD GUMBAN                                                                                                                    

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Grace Poe maintains that she is still in the presidential race and is “undaunted” as the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to disqualify her is still appealable before the Supreme Court (SC).

“It was expected and I remain undaunted by it,” she said. “I am a Filipino and qualified to offer myself as president of our country. The Comelec cannot change that, much less deprive our people of their right to choose our next leader.”

Poe’s legal team vowed to  exhaust all legal means to fight her cause.

“We will follow the process and the next and final battleground is in the Supreme Court. I am hopeful and confident that our magistrates, based on jurisprudence and precedents, will be objective and fair in their discernment of my case and, in the end, will let the Filipino people decide who our next president will be,” Poe said.

The Comelec in full session yesterday upheld the earlier decisions of the First and Second Divisions disqualifying Poe.

The Comelec said Poe committed “material misrepresentation in her certificate of candidacy when she declared therein that she has been a resident of the Philippines for a period of 10 years and 11 months as of the day of the elections on May 9, 2016.”

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The poll body also said that Poe, a foundling adopted by late actor Fernando Poe Jr. and his wife actress Susan Roces, failed to prove that she is a natural-born Filipino.

Comelec’s timing questioned

Poe’s lawyer George Garcia questioned the Comelec’s timing in releasing its decision before the holidays.

Garcia noted that the timing of the release of the Comelec’s decision is important because they intend to file petitions for a temporary restraining order (TRO) with the SC to stop the poll body from implementing its decision. But the SC is closed during the holidays.

“I won’t say that it was deliberate, but why release it before Christmas? They could have released it last week or next week. Why now?” Garcia said.

He cited the Comelec Rules of Procedures.

“They said we have five days (to secure TRO) before the en banc resolutions become final and executory. That includes Saturday, Sunday, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Five days do not pertain only to working days,” Garcia said.

Garcia said he would also seek the issuance of a status quo ante order to keep Poe’s name on the ballot pending SC resolution of her cases.

If a status quo ante order is granted, Garcia claimed the situation would go back to “when there was no ruling from the Comelec divisions and from the en banc.”

“But based on Comelec’s computation, starting (Dec. 23) technically speaking, the resolutions become final by Monday. That means they will execute and therefore remove her from the list of candidates,” he added.

When asked whether or not Poe’s name would be deleted from the list of presidential candidates if the SC will not issue a TRO by Monday, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista refused to confirm or deny this.

“We’ll cross the bridge when we get there,” Bautista said.

Garcia has appealed to the Comelec to observe judicial courtesy by waiting for the SC’s action on petitions even if the five-day period already lapsed.

“It has been done by the previous Comelec. They recognized judicial courtesy so we hope that Comelec now will do the same,” he added.

Poe’s supporters denounce Comelec decision

Poe’s supporters expressed disappointment with the Comelec’s decision.

Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian, spokesman for Poe, said that the Comelec’s decisions “blatantly disregarded the rights of foundlings enshrined in international customary laws that also prevail in our country.”

“The Comelec en banc’s decisions also turned a blind eye on the documentary evidences that we submitted that clearly shows that Senator Poe has been domiciled in the country since 2005,” he added.

Ang Grasya ng Masang Pilipino Movement, a coalition of Poe’s supporters in the country and abroad, also denounced the Comelec’s decision.

Jose Samson, the movement’s spokesman, said the Comelec’s decision is a “travesty of truth, justice and fair play.”

“The commissioners knew that there was legal, historical, practical basis for the claim that foundlings, as a rule, are natural-born citizens of the state they are found. Their decision not to recognize and apply such knowledge and information unto the case of Grace is a blatant act of injustice against foundlings and all who are powerless and innocent,” he said.  

“We look forward to the Supreme Court upholding the cause of Senator Poe and the cause of the sovereign people, consistent with the democratic precept that favors inclusion rather than exclusion. The last bastion of democracy that is the Supreme Court can favor the right of the people to elect the servant leaders of their choice,” he added. – With Sheila Crisostomo, Marvin Sy, Non Alquitran


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