Palace denies hand in Poe’s DQ: ‘Comelec is independent’
Malacañang on Wednesday denied it had a hand on the disqualification of Sen. Grace Poe from the 2016 presidential derby rendered by a division of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda maintained that the Comelec was an independent body as he urged the public to respect the rule of law and allow the process to take its course.
“The Comelec is an independent constitutional commission. So, they went through the process of confirmation. We will just urge everyone to respect the rule of law. There is a process. They have an opportunity to avail of the process, exhaust all remedies available to them,” Lacierda said in a press briefing.
The Comelec’s second divison on Tuesday ruled to cancel Poe’s certificate of candidacy for president amid questions on her citizenship and residency.
Asked about the composition of the three-member Comelec division, two of which were appointees of President Benigno Aquino III, Lacierda referred to the ruling of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) junking the disqualification suit against Poe and noted that the three justices who voted against the poll front-runner were not presidential appointees.
“Let’s look at the SET decision, let’s look at the Comelec decision. These decisions for instance, in the SET decision … Sen. Bam Aquino, a member of the Liberal Party (LP), voted in favor of Sen. Grace Poe,” Lacierda said, noting the Palace did not know that the decision was coming out.
“You have to accord each and every individual the respect of their office, the independence that they carry because it is important to them as constitutional commissioners to maintain their independence. They were confirmed. So once confirmed, they now are clothe with the office of where they are occupying now which is they are clothe with independence,” he added.
Lacierda underscored that the ruling LP even courted Poe to be its vice presidential bet and adopted her as a guest senatorial candidate in the 2013 elections, adding it was the opposition who first brought up the issues regarding her residency.
“The first time (it was raised) was I think Congressman Toby Tiangco raised that issue. So nobody knew. In fact, we wanted her to be the vice president of ‘daang matuwid’ coalition. If we knew already ahead of time, it doesn’t make sense for us to ask her to be our candidate,” he said.
Asked if Poe’s disqualification would boost the chances of LP standard-bearer Mar Roxas, Lacierda said it would be better to “wait for the process to unfurl.”
“We don’t know yet what will be the outcome so asking me questions which are highly speculative may lead to certain unfortunate twist and spin, so I’d rather not comment on that,” he said, adding Poe’s camp could still appeal the ruling to the Comelec en banc and to the Supreme Court.
Poe, the adopted daughter of movie stars Susan Roces and Fernando Poe Jr., previously renounced her Filipino citizenship to work in the United States. She returned to the Philippines and renounced her American citizenship after being appointed chair of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board in 2010.
Poe had repeatedly said she had fulfilled the 10-year residency requirement when she returned to the country after the death of her adoptive father in 2004. RC
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