Mar tells Grace: Just face DQ cases

Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - December 3, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Instead of blaming her political foes for her woes, Sen. Grace Poe should just address the disqualification cases filed against her, Liberal Party presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II said yesterday.

“I just want to make clear: I’ve nothing to do at all, I’ve no connection at all to her disqualification,” he said in response to Poe’s linking him and Vice President Jejomar Binay to the filing of the disqualification cases against her.

Her running mate Sen. Francis Escudero said a lawyer identified with the administration was surreptitiously managing the disqualification cases against Poe.

Roxas said that while he understands the pain Poe is going through, she still at least can turn to the legal processes for help.

“I don’t know any of these lawyers or law groups who filed cases against her. So instead of blaming other people, she should just answer them,” Roxas told radio station RMN in Cebu City.

“I don’t want to comment more on my opponent, I’m just asking why she’s blaming me. Isn’t it that it was her lawyer who handled her papers? Didn’t she take her oath as an American? She should answer those (questions) and not look at me,” he said in Filipino.

He also appealed to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and other judicial bodies handling the disqualification cases to resolve them quickly and fairly so that “our countrymen will not be confused.”

Poe has no one to blame but herself for her disqualification by the Comelec second division for “misrepresentation,” Rep. Carol Jane Lopez of party-list group You Against Corruption and Poverty said.

Lopez heads a large group of members of the House of Representatives supporting Roxas.

“It really pains me that opponents are quick to point a finger at Mar Roxas without looking at themselves first. In the first place, it wasn’t Mar who committed misrepresentation. So why is it Mar’s fault all of a sudden?” she said.

She said Poe should not blame others for the “false declaration” she made in her certificate of candidacy.

“As for our candidate, he made sure that he was qualified, eligible and not submitting a flawed declaration. I hope we would not point fingers. On our part, it is not our habit to blame others,” she said.

Not us, says UNA

Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) also denied having any role in the decision of the Comelec Second Division to disqualify Poe.

UNA vice presidential candidate Sen. Gregorio Honasan said the party, as a matter of principle and as representative of the accredited political opposition, upholds and respects due to process and the rule of law.

“UNA is not in any position nor is it inclined to influence the deliberations, decisions and rulings of constitutionally mandated institutions,” Honasan said in a statement.

Honasan said UNA members are also victims of “malicious prosecution.”

Binay is facing various corruption charges in connection with alleged anomalous projects he initiated when he was mayor of Makati City.

Honasan also faces a graft complaint over the pork barrel scam for supposedly pocketing P1.75 million in development funds for the poor, funneled to bogus non-governmental organizations.

“The UNA party adopts this position from our continuing painful and unwarranted experience in malicious prosecution, which we accept as a matter of partisan political reality on the eve of the coming May 2016 elections,” he said.

Binay ally Parañaque City Rep. Gustavo Tambunting said Poe can say all she wants to say but that at the end of the day, it’s the Supreme Court that would rule on her case with finality.

“This is a constitutional issue. It’s not about Senator Grace or about foundlings, we should, and are all bound, to follow the law,” Tambunting said.

“The integrity of the Constitution should be protected at all costs,” he said.

Senate President Franklin Drilon, LP vice chairman, also denied his partymates had influenced the Comelec panel in its decision to disqualify Poe.

“It’s the decision of the Comelec commissioners, out of their own perception of the law and the facts,” Drilon said in Filipino over dzRH radio.

Drilon reminded Poe that presidential cousin and partymate Sen. Bam Aquino voted – along with four senators – to junk the disqualification case filed against Poe before the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET).

Drilon, a lawyer and former justice secretary, agreed with Poe’s camp that the decision of the Comelec’s Second Division is still appealable before the Comelec full session and ultimately, before the Supreme Court.

Drilon also doused fears that Poe is in a precarious situation on account of the current Comelec commissioners’ being appointees of President Aquino. He said he believes the poll officials were independent thinkers and wouldn’t allow themselves to be influenced by anyone or any group.

Drilon pointed out that the commissioners have fixed terms, a setup meant to insulate them from any possible backlash in case they issue decisions unfavorable to the president or to any appointing power.

Reports claimed that Comelec Commissioners Al Parreño and Arthur Lim were reportedly fraternity brothers of Drilon and prominent lawyer and administration ally Avelino Cruz.

Another fraternity brother is Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who voted in favor of the disqualification of Poe at the SET.

Respect the process

Malacañang, meanwhile, called on Poe to respect the legal process and the rule of law.

“We can only ask everyone, all the candidates, to please respect the process and respect the rule of law. And I do not mean just Sen. Grace Poe, everyone who feels aggrieved, to always exhaust the legal remedies available to them,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

“I think as a candidate running for national elections, it is important for us to respect the rule of law,” he said.

He brushed aside accusations made by Poe that Roxas and Binay were behind moves to have her disqualified.

Lacierda said it doesn’t make sense for Roxas to move for Poe’s disqualification, as the LP standard bearer had invited her to be his running mate.

“In any case, in any decision we will respect it, in the same way that we respected the decisions of the Supreme Court, in the same way that everyone respected the decision of the SET, except perhaps for the parties involved,” he said.

Lacierda told reporters the ruling party chose to be silent when the SET handed down its verdict upholding Poe’s citizenship and dismissing the petition to have her unseated filed by another presidential hopeful Rizalito David.

The spokesman also begged off from commenting on retired Comelec commissioner Sixto Brillantes’ position that Poe’s case should be handled by the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

“You know I am so reticent to answer those legal questions because it might be taken as [an] opinion of the Palace. So, again, we will let the proceeding take its course,” he said. – Jess Diaz, Helen Flores, Christina Mendez, Delon Porcalla


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