Grace Poe’s name to remain in official list of candidates ‘for now’ – Comelec
MANILA, Philippines — Despite the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc’s decision upholding Senator Grace Poe’s disqualification by the poll body’s two divisions, her name will remain in the ballot for now.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, Comelec Chair Andres Bautista said Poe’s name would still be included in the initial list of 23 presidential candidates to be uploaded in the Election Management System (EMS).
“Right now her name is still on the ballot as we speak,” Bautista said. The Comelec will not remove the senator’s name until the commission en banc’s decision to cancel her certificate of candidacy (COC) is final and executory, according to Bautista.
Rule 37 of the Omnibus Election Code, states that decisions in pre-proclamation cases and petitions to deny due course to or cancel COCs shall become final and executory after the lapse of five days from their promulgation.
The decisions of the en banc were promulgated on Wednesday. The lapse of the five-day period will be on Monday, December 28.
Asked until when Poe’s name would be on the initial list of candidates, Bautista said “it depends.”
On Poe’s chances that her name would make it to the final list to be printed on the ballot or on the possibility of her camp’s failure to secure a temporary restraining order from the high court, Bautista said: “We will cross that bridge when we get there… As I said, we’ll see. Let’s see what happens in the coming days.”
The poll body on Tuesday voted separately on the two disqualification cases filed against Poe — the petition of lawyer Estrella Elamparo to cancel Poe’s COC, alleging that the senator committed material misrepresentation with her claims of being a natural-born Filipino citizen and of having resided in the Philippines for the past 10 years (Second Division); and the consolidated petition of former University of the East College of Law Dean Amado Valdez, De La Salle University professor Antonio Contreras and former senator Kit Tatad (First Division).
Five commissioners have consistently voted in favor of petitions disqualifying 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 COC, 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 reporters in an interview.
The members of the en banc voted 5-1 with one inhibition in favor of the decision of the Comelec Second Division. Bautista dissented with the majority while Commissioner Christian Lim inhibited from the case since he’s a former law partner of the petitioner, lawyer Estrella Elamparo.
On granting the petition, five commissioners voted in favor of canceling Poe’s COC while Bautista dissented.
On the other hand, the commission voted 5-2 in favor of the ruling of the Comelec First Division. Bautista and Lim gave dissenting votes to the majority decision.
Bautista presented a matrix on how the en banc voted. It showed that Comelec en banc unanimously voted in both cases, saying Poe is not a natural-born Filipino citizen.
“Members of the commission believe that Senator Poe is not a natural-born citizen,” said Bautista.
As for the issue on her lack of a residency of 10 years, the en banc voted 5-1 in the Second Division case with Commissioner Luie Guia dissenting while there was a vote of 5-2 in the First Division case with Guia and Lim dissenting.
“In the Second Division case, only Commissioner Guia believed that Senator Poe met the residency requirement. But if you look at the First Division it was 5-2, because both Commissioners Lim and Guia believe that Senator Poe met the residency requirement,” said Bautista.
The en banc said Poe had deliberate intent to mislead about her period of residency and her citizenship, with both votes on the matters coming in at 4-2.
Bautista was a dissenting vote on both items, saying he did not believe that there was a deliberate intent on Poe’s camp to mislead. Commissioner Al Parreno also dissented about the deliberate attempt to mislead about Poe’s natural-born status.
For residency, Bautista was joined by Guia.
Five commissioners voted to grant the consolidated petition.
The Comelec en banc also voted unanimously in both cases that they have clear jurisdiction on them.
Based on the 30-page decision on the First Division decision, the Comelec en banc said Poe did not offer any new evidence in her motion for reconsideration (MR) that would warrant a reversal of the earlier ruling.
“All other issues raised by Respondent are mere rehash of the arguments already addressed and ruled upon by the First Division,” said the Comelec en banc decision on MR against the First Division case.
The poll body agreed with the First Division ruling that Poe, being a senator, was deemed to have deliberately ignored her ineligibility as a presidential candidate and just opted to misrepresent herself as a natural-born citizen in her COC.
“We affirm the findings of the First Division that respondent deliberately misrepresented her citizenship so as to hide her ineligibility and mislead the electorate…clearly in order to serve her purpose and suit her intent of running for the presidency,” the en banc said in its decision.
The en banc added it found as unacceptable her claim that the inconsistency between her COC for senator in 2013 and her COC for the presidency was an honest mistake.
On the other hand, the 36-page ruling on the Second Division case, the commission en banc admitted that it would have been easier for the poll body to just adopt the vox populi mantra by allowing Poe to run for president and let the voters decide on her fate.
“But this, we cannot do. Not only because we are duty-bound by law to decide on cases brought before us. More so because no less than the people, through the Constitution, grants us this solemn duty. In applying the law, and disqualifying respondent, we are heeding the true voice of the people. From this task, we cannot desist,” said the Comelec en banc.
The commission said the Second Division was right in holding Poe accountable for her failure to prove her status as a natural-born citizen while being a foundling.
The decision also agreed with the Second Division that Poe was short of the 10-year residency requirement for presidential candidates even if they considered July 2006 as the earliest possible reckoning point of her residency in the Philippines. SFM
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