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Grace Poe puts fate in Supreme Court’s hands

/ 11:32 AM December 28, 2015

Senator Grace Poe asked the Supreme Court on Monday to reverse the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that canceled her certificate of candidacy (COC) and insisted that she should be allowed to run for president in the May 2016 elections.

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Poe’s lawyer George Garcia said they filed two petitions questioning the decision of the Comelec en banc affirming the rulings of its first and second divisions.

The Comelec first division canceled Poe’s COC due to questions on citizenship and residency raised by former-Senator Francisco Tatad, Antonio Contreras and Amado Valdez.

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In their petition, Poe’s camp said the Comelec evaded its positive duty under the law, and utterly disregarded its own rules of procedure and settled jurisprudence, when it refused to dismiss outright the petition filed by Tatad, Contreras and Valdez despite the absence of a cause of action and did not cite applicable grounds under the Omnibus Election Code.

The petition also pointed out that Comelec disregarded the Nov. 17, 2015 decision of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) dismissing the disqualification case against the Senator due to her questionable citizenship status.
“The Comelec placed on Poe the burden of proving that she is a natural-born Filipino instead of placing it on petitioners (Tatad, Contreras, and Valdez),” the petition stated.
Poe, a foundling (abandoned child with no known parents) was found at a church in Jaro, Iloilo. She was adopted by celebrity couple Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces.
Petitioners believed that Poe cannot be considered natural born because the identity of her parents is still unknown.
In affirming the petition filed by Tatad, Contreras and Valdez, Poe said Comelec “acted whimsically, capriciously, contrary to common sense and logic, and in contravention of the letter and spirit of the fundamental law, in concluding that a foundling like Poe is excluded from the enumeration of citizens under Section 1, Article IV of the 1935 Constitution.”
Aside from the Constitution, the petition added that Comelec also disregarded basic international law provisions on citizenship as well as the applicable international human rights instruments ratified by the Philippines that created an affirmative obligation to consider foundlings as natural-born citizens of the country.
Meanwhile, the Comelec second division canceled Poe’s COC based on the petition filed by lawyer Estrella Elamparo stating that Poe failed to meet the constitutional requirement of a 10-year residency for presidential candidates.
Poe, in her separate petition, said the Comelec refused to perform its positive duty to consider the evidence that she has reestablished her domicile of choice in the Philippines as early as May 24, 2005.
The senator’s camp added that “the Comelec acted whimsically and capriciously in concluding that Poe’s statement in her COC regarding her residency is false simply because it differed from the entry in her COC when she ran for senator in 2013.”
The Comelec ignored Poe’s honesty and good faith when it ruled that she had concealed her supposed “ineligibility” for the presidency and that she supposedly intended to mislead or deceive the Philippine electorate when she stated in her COC that her period of residency up to the day before election day 2016 would be 10 years and 11 months.

In filing the two petitions, Garcia told reporters that they took the case to the Supreme Court after the Comelec said it would remove Poe’s name from the list of candidates unless the high court issued a restraining order.

Grace Poe supporters

Supporters of Sen. Grace Poe demonstrate outside the Supreme Court in Manila as the senator filed petitions seeking a restraining order on a ruling of the Commission on Elections disqualifying her from next year’s presidential race. TETCH TORRES-TUPAS / INQUIRER.NET

“We are praying that while the Supreme Court is studying the merits of our petitions, they should issue a temporary restraining order because of a threat from Comelec that in the absence of a TRO (temporary restraining order), they will implement their decision,” Garcia said.

He said the Comelec’s decision was “whimsical” and tantamount to “grave abuse of discretion” due to the timing of the release of its decision a day before the holiday (Dec. 23).

“Para sa amin masyadong whimsical. Masyadong abuse of discretion hindi lang abuse kundi grave abuse of discretion yon. Wala pong Korte Suprema simula noong Miyerkules. Ngayon lang bukas ang Supreme Court para tumanggap ng ipa-file pero wala silang session,” Garcia said noting that he believed that the high court’s next session is on Jan. 12, 2016.

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(For us, the decision is very whimsical. It shows not only abuse of discretion but grave abuse of discretion. The Supreme Court was closed last Wednesday. The Supreme Court just opened today to accept those who will file [petitions] but it has no session.)

In their petition, they urged Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to act on the petition while the court was on recess.

“Under the rules of the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice can issue a restraining order while court is on recess,” Garcia explained.

On the alternative, he said they also asked the high court to issue a status quo ante order against the Comelec to observe the situation as if no case has been filed questioning the Senator’s candidacy.

Poe said she remained optimistic that the high court would immediately act on her petitions.

“I am optimistic that the high court, or Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, herself, will not only act expeditiously, but positively on the case to grant the temporary restraining order we are seeking,” she added. CB

READ: Grace Poe hopeful SC will swiftly uphold her

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TAGS: Certificate of Candidacy (COC), citizenship, Commission on Elections (Comelec), Elections 2016, Ma. Lourdes Sereno, residency, Senator Grace Poe, Supreme Court
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