Comelec majority: Poe deliberately attempted to mislead voters
Five commissioners of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) have consistently voted to favor the petitions disqualifying presidential aspirant and Sen. Grace Poe.
On both motions for reconsideration filed by Poe’s camp, the five commissioners—Al Parreno, Luie Tito Guia, Arthur Lim, Rowena Guanzon and Sheriff Abas—ruled to uphold the earlier decisions of the first and second divisions canceling Poe’s certificate of candidacy, saying she has not been a resident of the Philippines for the past 10 years and she is not a natural-born Filipino.
“The majority, five commissioners in both cases, voted that there was deliberate attempt to mislead the electorate. The decision in the first division states that both—her statement that she is a natural-born citizen and that she had 10-year residency—are false and she intended and attempted to mislead the electorate,” Guanzon told the press on Wednesday.
The commissioner said majority of the Comelec’s seven commissioners believed Poe should know the law as a legislator.
“The respondent knew that she was adopted and not natural-born and yet, being a legislator, a lawmaker, she is expected to know the law and to follow it. In residency, the resolution states that she could not have started her domicile in the Philippines in May 2005 because at the time, she was just a foreign visitor temporarily staying in the country,” she said.
Only six commissioners voted on the motion for reconsideration on the petition filed by lawyer Estrella Elamparo as Commissioner Christian Robert Lim inhibited.
In the Elamparo petition, five commissioners believed Poe failed to satisfy the 10-year residency requirement while Commissioner Guia dissented. On the issue of natural-born citizenship, all six commissioners said Poe was not a natural-born Filipino.
On the issue of whether or not there was an attempt by Poe to mislead the electorate on her residency and citizenship, four commissioners concurred.
On granting the petition, five commissioners voted in favor of canceling Poe’s COC while Comelec Chair Andres Bautista dissented.
Five commissioners also voted to cancel Poe’s COC based on the consolidated petition of former University of the East College of Law dean Amado Valdez, De La Salle University professor Antonio Contreras and former Sen. Kit Tatad.
On the issue of residency, Guia and Christian Robert Lim dissented while Bautista, Arthur Lim, Abas, Guanzon and Parreno believed Poe failed to satisfy the 10-year residency requirement.
All seven commissioners believed Poe was not a natural-born Filipino.
Meanwhile, Guia, Bautista and Christian Robert Lim said Poe did not attempt to mislead the public regarding her residency and her being a natural-born Filipino. They were outvoted by four commissioners.
Five commissioners voted to grant the consolidated petition.
Guanzon said Poe’s camp did not present any new arguments or new jurisprudence which could have helped the commissioners to overturn their previous decisions.
No outside influence
Meanwhile, Guanzon denied any outside influence or political pressure in upholding the disqualification cases against Poe.
“We are here because we are constitutional commissioners. We should uphold and protect the Constitution; that is our duty. Our duty is to ensure that the true will of the electorate prevails,” she said.
She said the claim of Poe’s camp that the cases would be decided faster if the Comelec decided to consolidate the petitions was unfounded.
“We did not consolidate because these were cases filed separately and were raffled to different divisions. You cannot say that if all these cases were consolidated, it would have been resolved faster. I don’t think so,” Guanzon said.
In the end, the commissioner said it was best for the parties to present their case before the Supreme Court.
“I was saying it at the en banc, that we should decide on this a week ago. It is best for the parties to just go to the Supreme Court. But, some commissioners were not ready with their separate opinions,” Guanzon said.
“We would like to assure the public that the commission has done its duty. Since the Supreme Court is the final arbiter, it is best for the parties to go to the Supreme Court so that issue can be resolved with finality and certainty because the people have a right to choose their next leader.” RC
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