Comelec en banc affirms Poe’s disqualification – poll body chief
MANILA, Philippines — It looks like a bleak Christmas for Sen. Grace Poe.
Comelec Chair Andres Bautista said the en banc has already voted to reject the motions for reconsiderations (MRs) filed by Poe regarding her disqualification from the 2016 presidential race.
“It looks like it’s denied (based on the votes),” Bautista told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a phone interview.
However, he declined to elaborate saying he would call a press conference to explain how the en banc voted.
Asked if there were commissioners who changed their votes from when the First and Second Division decided on the cases, Bautista said: “There were some who reversed their decisions.”
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon on Tuesday said that the poll body already voted on the MRs filed by Poe.
“We have voted on the motion for reconsideration, it will be finished most likely by tomorrow (Wednesday). We have all voted. It would be better tomorrow because the promulgation will likely be tomorrow,” she told reporters in an interview on Tuesday.
“We have already cast our votes but it’s not yet promulgated, probably by tomorrow…Certainly, before Christmas, it’ll be finished here at the Comelec,” she added on Tuesday.
However, Guanzon had then refused to divulge the results of the Comelec en banc executive meeting.
“We cannot disclose our vote but the public should be assured that there is no delay. Many people have been asking why it’s taking so long,” she added, saying they had to carefully study the cases.
“Some commissioners are not yet done with their separate opinions so we have to wait for that,” she said earlier on Tuesday.
Asked if the poll body’s votes were too far from the second and first division decisions, Guanzon hinted some commissioners reversed their earlier decisions.
“It can be different or can be the same but not all commissioners voted the same. And I think that every commissioner, including the Chairman, has arrived at a decision after careful study,” she said.
Poe filed two separate MRs after the first and second divisions of the poll body earlier ruled to disqualify her from the 2016 presidential race over her citizenship and residency.
On Dec 1, the Comelec 2nd Division voted 3-0 to disqualify Poe from the presidential race for failure to meet citizenship and residency requirement. The petition was filed by former GSIS lawyer Estrella Elamparo.
More than a week later, the poll body’s First Division voted 2-1 to cancel Poe’s certificate of candidacy for president after finding that she committed material misrepresentation when she claimed to be a natural-born citizen and has resided in the Philippines for at least 10 years.
The First Division ruling covered three consolidated petitions filed by former senator Francisco Tatad, De La Salle University Professor Antonio Contreras and former University of the East College of Law dean Amado Valdez.
Guanzon said the members of the en banc voted separately on the two cases.
“We did not consolidate because these are different cases in two divisions. So the MRs were also voted upon separately ,” she said.
Guanzon said only Commissioner Christian Robert Lim inhibited from voting on the 2nd division appeal because the petitioner in the case, former Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) lawyer Estrella Elamparo, was an associate in his former law firm.
No one inhibited from voting on the 1st division case.
“No one inhibited (in the 1st division) because Commissioner Lim has no conflict of interest. So this is good because the parties can now go to the Supreme Court very soon. As we said the SC is the final arbiter,” Guanzon added.
Without particularly referring to the Poe case, Guanzon said any candidate had only five days after promulgation of decision to secure a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court.
“If they don’t meet the deadline to get a TRO, they will not be on the ballot. I’m not speaking about any particular candidate, that’s just the rule. It’s better for the cases to go up to the Supreme Court.”
“It’s really the SC and personally I think the sooner that we release this decision, the better for parties and the better for the Filipino poeple,” she added. SFM
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