Ex-SC chief Puno: High court final arbiter of Poe’s citizenship case | Inquirer News

Ex-SC chief Puno: High court final arbiter of Poe’s citizenship case

/ 03:40 AM September 24, 2015



Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno on Wednesday said the “final authority” in issues being handled by the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), including the citizenship issue against Sen. Grace Poe, was still the Supreme Court.

Puno also said that it would be “better” for the SET to order the conduct of a DNA test for Poe, whose critics had claimed she was not a natural-born Filipino and therefore was barred from running for public office.


“The use of the phrase sole authority to decide issues, regarding (SET), does not mean that (its) decisions can no longer be brought to the Supreme Court,” Puno said at the weekly Fernandina forum in San Juan City.


He said “when it comes to the interpretation of the law, the final authority is always the (Supreme) Court.”

“You cannot deprive the Supreme Court of that jurisdiction because that is in the Constitution,” Puno said, noting that the Charter had actually “expanded the jurisdiction” of the institution.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the Supreme Court has the “power to review … all acts, decisions where grave abuse of discretion can be raised,” said Puno, who also served as SET chair years back.

“The phraseology grave abuse of discretion is very wide. So we can be sure, this decision of the SET (on the issue being thrown at Poe) will go up to our Supreme Court. And the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is beyond dispute,” he said.

Independent DNA test

With the SET ordering the DNA procedure, “you can be sure the one conducting the test is independent,” Puno said.


“There are procedures there. How do you do the matching. It’s better if the SET orders that and the tribunal would call all the parties, suggest what is the proper procedure, get an independent institution that will conduct the DNA (test), so there’s no question (about the results),” Puno said.

Puno did not directly answer questions, however, about whether the test results would “conclusively” settle the issue of citizenship raised against Poe, who has declared her intent to run for President in the 2016 elections and is facing a disqualification case in the SET.

A foundling left in a church in Iloilo province moments after her birth, the junior senator does not know her biological parents. She was later adopted by actress Susan Roces and actor Fernando Poe Jr.

If the case would turn against her favor, Poe could be barred from running for President in May 2016.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio of the Supreme Court, the current SET chair, said a foundling, “to be natural-born, must show blood relationship.”

Puno said there were rulings on conclusiveness of finding. “Let’s look at the process that is being followed. That has requirements for matching. With whom should we match? We should look at that.”

Bound by ethics

The former Chief Justice begged off from answering questions about whether he believed Poe was a natural-born or a naturalized Filipino citizen, saying even if he was retired and headed the SET for a “long time,” he was “still bound by our ethics.”

“I follow the rule on conservatism … And I would really not like to comment on the issue, especially on the issue itself of partisan character,” he said.

He also declined to answer questions about whether the supposed ties of Carpio to Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas through The Firm, were grounds for inhibition from the tribunal.

Puno said there were “internal rules” that had to be followed.

Puno believes the Supreme Court would resolve the issue before the elections as it would have a “clear picture” of whether Poe is qualified to run for President.

Asked if there was anything that would prevent Poe from running for higher office if the high court would not be able to do this in time, he said that generally speaking, nothing could prevent anyone from running for office unless the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order to that effect.

The SET—composed of Senators Loren Legarda, Pia Cayetano, Bam Aquino, Cynthia Villar, Nancy Binay and Tito Sotto, Carpio, and Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro and Arturo Brion—is hearing the disqualification case filed by defeated senatorial candidate Rizalito David against Poe.

The SET agreed to drop the issue of residency against Poe, saying the period within which this should have been raised had already lapsed.

The tribunal is now focusing on the citizenship issue raised against the senator.


Carpio should inhibit from Grace Poe citizenship case–Bello

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Carpio: Poe must prove she’s natural-born Filipino

TAGS: citizenship case, Elections, Grace Poe, Politics, Reynato Puno, Supreme Court

© Copyright 1997-2024 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.