Storm over SC decision on Poe refuses to die
THE Supreme Court decision allowing Senator Grace Poe to run for President has not resolved questions on whether she is a natural-born Filipino and has satisfied the 10-year residency requirement under the Constitution, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said in a statement.
In a statement by the IBP board of governors Sunday, reading the main decision and various opinions of justices would show that the high court has not resolved the issues involving Poe’s eligibilities as natural-born and 10-year resident.
“It can be concluded that the decision did not settle the matter of whether Poe is a natural-born citizen and whether she has met the residency requirement under the law,” the statement noted.
“While the decision appears to have rendered an opinion as to whether (Poe) is a natural-born as well as whether she has satisfied the 10-year residency requirement for the presidency, it should be emphasized that the dispositive portion of the decision merely orders the reversal of the decisions of the Commission on Elections granting the petitions to disqualify her… and states that she is qualified to be a candidate for president in the national and local elections on May 9, 2016,” read the one-page statement.
The IBP Board of Governors pointed that the main decision which was approved by nine justices held that only the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) can rule on such issues and not the Comelec.
“For this issue to be finally settled, the decision of the Supreme Court posits that, it is apparently necessary, for the eligibility of Poe to be determined with finality, that she must first win in the May 9 presidential election and someone must file a quo warranto petition against her with the Supreme Court sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal, for this tribunal to rule on this matter with authority, with jurisdiction and with finality,” the IBP pointed out.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, in his dissenting opinion, said only seven justices voted to rule on Poe’s citizenship.
Former Government Service Insurance System counsel Estrella Elamparo earlier said “it’s not true that the issues on Sen. Poe’s citizenship and residency eligibilities have already been resolved. In fact, none of these have been settled by court yet if you read the decision and opinions.”
She explained that of the 15 justices who participated in the voting on Poe’s petition, only five have directly stated in their opinions that the senator would meet the residency requirement in the Constitution before the May 9 polls.
She was referring to Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Marvic Leonen, Francis Jardeleza and Jose Perez, who penned the decision.
She revealed that of the nine justices who approved the ruling, two of them – Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin and Jose Mendoza – did not issue their separate opinion and state for sure their concurrence on the residency issue.
“There are reports that they voted against Poe on the residency issue, we cannot say for sure because they did not write separate opinions. We cannot say that they actually voted on these issue, so there is need for the court to clarify that,” the lawyer stressed.
She said the two others – Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta and Benjamin Caguioa – concurred in the majority ruling only insofar as the finding of grave abuse of discretion on Comelec’s cancellation of Poe’s COC due to material misrepresentation on her qualifications.
“Their concurrence was limited to the finding of grave abuse of discretion. We cannot say that they voted on the issue of residency because as they said in the citizenship issue, there was no need to settle the eligibility issues in deciding on this case,” she pointed out.
The lawyer added that even on the issue of Comelec’s jurisdiction on the case, only a minority of six justices – Perez, Sereno, Leonen, Velasco, Bersamin and Mendoza – voted in favor of Poe.
She said Jardeleza, Caguioa and Peralta agreed with the dissenting justices that the poll body has the power to determine the eligibility of Poe as a presidential candidate.
Carpio was joined by four other magistrates – Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Arturo Brion, Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Bienvenido Reyes – in his dissenting opinion that Poe is not a natural-born Filipino and also lacks the residency requirement.
Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, on the other hand, also dissented in the majority ruling, saying Poe lacks residency requirement but the citizenship issue was not yet ripe for decision.
For these reasons, Elamparo said there is a need for the SC to clarify its ruling on both residency and citizenship issues against Poe – especially since the dispositive portion of the ruling specifically stated that Poe is eligible for the presidency.
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