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SC urged to immediately rule on Poe’s DQ

Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - February 17, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) should resolve soon the petition of Sen. Grace Poe questioning her disqualification from the presidential election after the conclusion of oral arguments on Tuesday.

Three legal experts said this yesterday as they pointed out that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has started printing ballots with Poe’s name.

Election lawyers Edgardo Carlo Vistan II and Romulo Macalintal, and former Integrated Bar of the Philippines national president Vicente Joyas all said the high court should come up with a decision in the next few weeks now that arguments by all parties have been heard.

They noted that an immediate ruling on Poe’s case is necessary to allow the poll body to avail of contingency measures if the disqualification rulings would be upheld.

 The experts also warned that a late ruling upholding her disqualification on citizenship and residency issues days before the election could possibly make votes for Poe stray votes, and thus cannot be credited to her.

“Even if the ballots would be printed already with Senator Poe’s name as one of the presidential candidates, there is still an urgent need for a speedy resolution of the case so that the Comelec can make appropriate adjustments to the automated vote counting and canvassing protocols or procedures in case Sen. Poe is disqualified,” Vistan suggested.

Echoing criticisms on the SC hearings, Macalintal lamented how the high court does not seem to be treating the Poe cases with urgency.

Both Vistan and Macalintal agreed that the SC could have resolved the cases earlier had it conducted oral arguments more often than just once a week.

Vistan said even if the oral arguments lasted six or seven rounds, the SC could still decide on the case much earlier if it had held oral arguments “twice or three times a week.”

 Macalintal stressed that the facts of the case are obvious, so it should have not taken the SC long to resolve the case.

“The justices already know the facts. The issue on her residency is all there in her COC (certificate of candidacy),” he added.

He believes the issues left are not questions of facts, but rather legal issues which involve questions of law.

While Joyas agreed that it is important to resolve the cases of Poe with dispatch, he said the high tribunal must also be given “reasonable time to hear and decide the cases because of the significant issues involved.”

Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. also urged the SC to act expeditiously on the disqualification case of Poe.

Drilon said he was happy that the oral arguments have been terminated after calling on the SC to speed up handling the case for weeks.

“At least they (SC magistrates) listened because it’s important for the nation that this issue be settled for the sake of Grace Poe and for the sake of our elections,” Drilon told reporters in Quezon City where he joined Liberal Party presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II in meeting barangay leaders.

Belmonte said he had wished the SC finished its hearings sooner but he believes the high court is fully aware of the need to decide swiftly.  – With Paolo Romero, Jess Diaz

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