No plan B on Poe’s disqualification case – Chiz

Lalaine Jimenea - The Philippine Star

ORMOC CITY, Philippines – Presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe and her running mate Sen. Francis Escudero have no alternative plans if she is disqualified from the presidential race.

“There is no Plan B because we believe Senator Poe won’t be disqualified,” Escudero said during a visit here yesterday. “We are running as independents… we have no options.”

He said they chose to run as independent candidates because they believe the president should not belong to any party.

“I have seen how divisive party politics is,” he said, citing his experience during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“For nine years our district did not benefit from any government project… The president should serve as president for those who voted and did not vote for him or her, whether he or she likes him or her, whether they are party mates or not,” Escudero said.

Escudero attended a forum with students and barangay officials at the Western Leyte College gym here. Poe was supposed to accompany him, but she begged off because of an upset stomach.

Escudero and Poe were also set to visit a temporary shelter in Barangay Cabalawan, meet with businessmen and the youth and attend a coconut festival in Tacloban City after their visit here.

The senator told The STAR he and Poe planned to visit Leyte rather than the areas hit by Typhoon Lando in northern Luzon so as not to distract the rescue and relief operations there.

Escudero also noted that almost two years since Super Typhoon Yolanda struck Leyte, the rehabilitation funds have not been fully distributed.

He assured residents of Ormoc and Kananga in Leyte that he would look into their complaints on the distribution of emergency shelter assistance.

“We wanted to see what things are here, so that we can see gaps and make sure that what happened to the Yolanda relief and rehab efforts would not happen again,” he said.

No need to appear

Meanwhile, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Poe does not need to appear during the Nov. 3 hearing of the disqualification case filed against her by losing senatorial candidate and now presidential aspirant Rizalito David.

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said the subpoena issued by the poll body’s law department only asks Poe to submit her counter-affidavit.

David, who also filed a disqualification case before the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), claimed Poe had “misrepresented” the facts of her being a natural-born citizen when she ran for senator in the 2013 elections.

Poe’s legal counsel George Erwin Garcia said David was “guilty of forum shopping.”

“What he cannot get from the other body, he intends to get it here. This is abhorred and absolutely prohibited. With all due respect, the Comelec should either dismiss this case or suspend proceedings as a matter of judicial courtesy,” Garcia said.

Scared of Poe      

Poe’s allies at the House of Representatives said her opponents were behind the disqualification cases because they were threatened by her high ratings in recent surveys.  

“I don’t understand why her critics keep on filing these disqualification cases in the first place because these moves do not really strengthen the case,” party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III told a news forum. 

“They just want the public to have a notion that many people are questioning her qualifications... It’s like everybody is filing cases because for sure, it will make the news. This is engaging in foul play,” Bello said. – With Paolo Romero, Sheila Crisostomo, Rey Galupo

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