SC orders SET to explain dismissal of Poe’s DQ

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) yesterday ordered the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) to explain its ruling dismissing the disqualification case filed against Sen. Grace Poe in the 2013 midterm polls.

In a special session, justices of the high court ordered the nine-member tribunal to comment on the petition filed by Rizalito David questioning the SET decision, which allowed Poe to keep her Senate seat.

The SC gave the tribunal, composed of six senators and three SC justices, 15 days to comply with the order.

The high court set oral arguments on the petition on Jan. 16 next year.

In a 74-page petition filed on Dec. 8, David asked the SC to reverse the SET decision upholding the eligibility of Poe in the 2013 elections.

He accused the five senators who voted to dismiss the disqualification case against Poe of handing down a “political decision.” They were Sens. Vicente Sotto III, Loren Legarda, Pia Cayetano, Cynthia Villar and Bam Aquino.

In favoring Poe, David alleged that the senators violated the Constitution and the Lerias doctrine, which warned politicians who are members of the SET against partisan voting.

The assailed SET ruling held that Poe should be considered a natural-born Filipino despite being a foundling based on international laws.

David argued that the dissenting opinion of SC Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and Arturo Brion and Sen. Nancy Binay – who voted to disqualify Poe – was the correct interpretation of the law.

They said Poe, being a foundling, could be considered as a naturalized Filipino and not qualified for any elective post.

David was a losing senatorial candidate in the 2013 polls and was recently declared by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as a nuisance candidate in the 2016 presidential race.

Another case involving Poe is expected to reach the SC after two divisions of the Comelec earlier cancelled her candidacy for president for her failure to meet the 10-year residency requirement under the Constitution.

Poe not giving up, files MR 

Faced with disqualification from the presidential race, Poe said she has not lost hope that the recent political developments will turn in her favor.

Poe filed a motion for reconsideration (MR) with the Comelec, seeking the reversal of her second disqualification by the Comelec.

George Garcia, lawyer for Poe, asked the Comelec, sitting in full session, to overturn the Dec. 11 ruling of the poll body as she did not commit “material misrepresentation” on her certificate of candidacy (COC) for president.

Garcia said the three disqualification cases filed against his client “are premature attempts to attack Poe’s eligibility for president.”

“These petitions should be dismissed outright and converted into petitions for quo warranto, which may be filed with the Presidential Electoral Tribunal if the respondent is elected and proclaimed president,” the motion read.

Poe is also looking forward to the results of the latest DNA test conducted on a prospective relative in Iloilo, who claimed to be related to her biological parents.

“I’m not losing hope,” Poe said, adding the Filipinos should be given the opportunity to choose their own leader.

Grace’s fate up to SC

It will be the SC that will determine the fate of Poe in the 2016 presidential race, a Comelec official said.

“The final arbiter on Poe’s disqualification cases is the high court. The sooner we resolve this matter, the sooner the parties can go to the SC,” Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said in an interview. 

Guanzon authored the Dec. 11 resolution of the poll body’s First Division, granting three consolidated petitions to disqualify Poe for not being a natural-born Filipino and for lacking the 10-year residency requirement under the Constitution.

On Dec. 1, the Comelec Second Division disqualified Poe from the presidential race.

The disqualification cases against Poe were filed by lawyer Estrella Elamparo, former senator Franciso Tatad, De La Salle University professor Antonio Contreras and former University of the East law dean Amado Valdez.

The poll body has yet to resolve the motion for reconsideration filed by Poe’s lawyer Garcia.

Seven Comelec commissioners will decide on Poe’s appeal.

Asked about the possibility of the Comelec reversing its rulings, Guanzon said, “The majority wins in an en banc decision. But what is more important is the appreciation of the law and evidence in the case.”

Fil-Ams for Poe

Filipino-American leaders of the Grace Poe Movement (GPM) held a rally in front of the Philippine consulate general in Los Angeles yesterday to protest the Comelec’s disqualification of the senator from the 2016 presidential race.

Jun Caringal, GPM North Canada lead convenor, said Poe’s disqualification was a political maneuver of the Aquino administration.

“We protest this anti Fil-Am bias against Sen. Grace Poe,” they said in a statement.

They warned presidential candidates Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Binay against the supposed demolition job by the administration using the Comelec as stamp pad. – With Sheila Crisostomo, Christina Mendez, Non Alquitran












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