Duterte and Poe should be allowed to run
Ruben Almendras (The Freeman) - December 21, 2015 - 9:00am

The current controversies of the qualifications and eligibility of Digong Duterte and Grace Poe to run for president has the potential of creating political problems for the country that we can ill afford  in the light of the economic progress that the Philippines have achieved in the last five years. Politics will disrupt the over 6 percent annual GDP growth that has been the norm, and the much improved governance of the public and private sector. It will set back the attractiveness of the Philippines as an investment destination, and may decrease the economic growth instead of increasing it even at a higher rate.

The disqualification case against Poe has to do with her not being a natural born citizen as she is a foundling whose parentage cannot be established up to this time, and also on her lack of the required residency of 10 years to qualify to run for president. The disqualification case against Duterte is his failure to file a certificate of candidacy on time, and the error of the certificate of his party's candidate to which he could have substituted. The Comelec have been conducting hearings and hopefully the Supreme Court will come to immediate decisions when these cases are elevated to them.    

There is a practical consideration for an early resolution of this dilemma, and it is the printing of the ballots, which has to have enough lead time to make it available for the May 2016 election, considering the number of candidates and the number of precincts all over the country that these ballots have to be delivered to. It is  logistical concern that have to be resolved.

Reverting to the issues, we can dissect them as procedural and constitutional issues. Procedural in that the errors are documentary errors in terms of dates, and nomenclature like the position that was filed for by Martin Diño as Pasay City mayor on the certificates for presidential candidates. The dates in Poe's certificate of candidacy when she ran as senator, which falls short of the 10 year requirement for the presidency, I would also consider as a procedural error. The only constitutional issue is Poe's not being a natural born citizen, which is clearly not allowed in the 1987 Philippine Constitution. 

On the procedural issues, for the sake of political peace and economic progress, these should be resolved in favor of the candidates and they should be allowed to run for president. There is too much at stake to let procedural errors determine the outcome of the elections.   

On the constitutional issue of the citizenship of Poe, we have to realize that there had already Philippine Constitutions since 1935.         

Constitutions are meant to be reviewed and revised just that there is no time to revise it before the May elections. In the Preamble of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, it is clearly stated that "Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from the people." So in the final analysis, it is the will of the people that should be supreme, so let us let the people decide who will be the next president of the Philippines.

Great Britain, one of the earliest democracies, do not have a written constitution in that their constitution is not in a single unified document but in the decisions, rulings, and resolutions by the Courts and the Parliament over many years. It relies a lot on common law and what had worked for the country over the years. The French Constitution came about after their bloody revolution and had to be coerced through the Royalist to make the will of the people the primary source of sovereignty. And finally; Sec. 16 of Article XIII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution states:" The right of the people and their organizations to effective and reasonable participation at all levels of social, political, and economic decision making shall not be abridged. The state shall, by law, facilitate the establishment of adequate consultation mechanism."  The peoples' will to vote for all the five candidates for the presidential election, is the best consultation mechanism that the Supreme Court can give to the people. 

Duterte and Poe should be allowed to run for president.



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