Full Comelec disqualifies Poe
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - December 22, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in full session yesterday voted to uphold the rulings of its First and Second Divisions disqualifying Sen. Grace Poe from running in the 2016 presidential elections.

Reliable sources told The STAR the voting was 5-2 to deny the motion for reconsideration that Poe filed on the ruling of the First Division.

The voting on the Second Division ruling was 5-1-1 for disqualification, with one commissioner dissenting and another inhibiting.

The official results of the voting are expected to be released today.

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon yesterday said the poll body had finished voting on Poe’s motions for reconsideration. The vote still has to be promulgated.

“Not all the commissioners voted the same,” Guanzon said.

She said the ruling of the First Division, which she penned, was exhaustive both on “procedural and substantive ground.”

“There has to be new evidence, or new argument or new jurisprudence for me to change or reverse my vote,” she added.

“That’s the way it goes with the other commissioners… There is no stopping any commissioner from analyzing it… after thinking about it for many times over…the commissioners decide to change their votes. That also happens,” she said.

Poe, on the other hand, said she will appeal the Comelec decision before the Supreme Court (SC).

“If news reports are accurate, as stated before, we will exhaust all legal remedies. We will appeal to the wisdom of the SC,” Poe’s spokesman Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian maintained Poe is a natural-born Filipino, eligible to run for the highest post of the land. He also maintained Poe has met the 10-year residency requirement.

“We are very confident that in the end, the justices of the SC will see the merits of our position,” Gatchalian said.

“At this point, the process has not taken its full course, hence Senator Poe is still in the running for the presidency and should be kept in the official list of candidates,” he added.

Voting 2-1, the First Division in its decision on Dec. 11 disqualified Poe based on the petitions filed by De La Salle University professor Antonio Contreras, former senator Francisco Tatad and former University of the East College of Law dean Amado Valdez.

The Second Division, on the other hand, unanimously voted on Dec. 1 to disqualify Poe based on the petition of former Government Service Insurance System chief legal counsel Estrella Elamparo.

Guanzon said they voted to reject Poe’s motion to consolidate the four cases because these are different cases in two divisions.

Poe’s camp decried the apparent leak of the Comelec decision.

“Our camp is finding it very disturbing that certain personalities inside Comelec have resorted to leaking important decisions even before the Comelec itself promulgates the decision,” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian also scored the sources behind the breach of protocol, accused them of sowing confusion.

“This is highly irregular and we believe that the Comelec should look into this seriously. Protocols and procedures are being breached. That being said, the sinster minds behind this leak have one thing in mind – to sow confusion,” Gatchalian said.

“In addition, if reports are to be believed, the timing of the release of the supposed decision is also suspect. Why release the decision in haste when the holiday breaks are upon us. Is it meant to disadvantage Senator Poe’s legal response?”

Sen. Francis Escudero has asked Senate President Franklin Drilon not to preempt the decision and timetable of the Comelec regarding the printing of official ballots for the 2016 elections.

Escudero was reacting to Drilon’s statement last week that the Comelec should adjust its timetable until the Supreme Court (SC) comes up with a final ruling on the disqualification cases filed against Sen. Grace Poe.

Escudero said any deliberate attempt to delay the printing of ballots might affect the elections.

He said delaying the elections would be a violation of the Constitution, which sets the election on the second Monday of May. “The Comelec could not change that,” he said.

Escudero urged Drilon to respect the independence of the Comelec as a constitutional body.

The Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) has yet to rule on the motion for reconsideration filed by lawyer Rizalito David on its decision allowing Poe to run for president.

Escudero said the Comelec has the option to include in the official ballots the names of candidates who are facing disqualification to avoid issues that may arise in case SC comes up with a favorable decision.

Legal process

While admitting the disqualification cases against Poe are affecting her candidacy, Escudero said they have no choice but to abide by the legal process.

“Hopefully before the elections the Supreme Court will decide on the cases brought before it regarding the SET and Comelec ruling,” he said.

In the meantime, Escudero said he and Poe, regardless of the ratings they are getting in surveys, would continue with their campaign to apprise the public of their platform.

Ballots

When asked if Poe’s name will be printed on the ballot pending the resolution of the cases, Guanzon said the rules afford a person only five days to get a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the SC to be included in the ballots.

“So when the deadline comes and they are not able to get a TRO, they won’t be included in the ballot. I’m not speaking of any particular (person). That’s the rule,” she said.

Guanzon added that the final arbiter in Poe’s cases is the high tribunal.

“The sooner we release this decision so that the parties can go to the SC, the better not only for the parties but also for the people,” she said. – With Christina Mendez

ACIRC COMELEC DECISION DRILON FIRST DIVISION GATCHALIAN GRACE POE GUANZON POE SECOND DIVISION SUPREME COURT
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