Poe wins TROs from SC
The Supreme Court on Monday issued two temporary restraining orders (TRO) stopping the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from enforcing its resolutions canceling Sen. Grace Poe’s certificate of candidacy (COC) for President.
The orders came just hours after Poe’s camp filed two petitions asking the high tribunal to stop the Comelec from disqualifying her from next year’s election on the grounds that she is not a natural-born Filipino and that she does not meet the 10-year residency requirement for candidates.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno issued the orders on the written recommendation of the members in charge, or the justices assigned to the petitions brought by Poe, in accordance with the court’s internal rules, Theodore Te, spokesperson for the Supreme Court, told reporters.
Poe brought two petitions for certiorari, each pleading for the issuance of a TRO or a status quo ante (the way things were before) order against the Comelec resolutions.
Te said the orders were “effective immediately and until further orders” from the court.
He said the cases were set for oral arguments before the full court at 2 p.m. on Jan. 19, 2016.
The court gave the Comelec and the other respondents in the cases 10 days to comment on the petitions.
Poe thanked the Supreme Court for acting swiftly on her petitions despite the holiday break. The court is on a recess for the Christmas and New Year holidays. It will resume sessions on Jan. 12.
“I thank the Supreme Court for a just and compassionate decision,” Poe said in a statement issued by her camp immediately after Te announced the tribunal’s action.
“From the start, I put my full faith in the judicial process. The Comelec denied our people their choices in an open election, but I am confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the truth and the spirit of the Constitution,” Poe said.
“We are confident the [Supreme Court] will honor previous jurisprudence on the rights of foundlings to a country and citizenship. I also pray that they will carefully look into the facts of my residence and my actual physical presence in the country,” she said.
Justices in charge
Poe’s petitions were included in Monday’s regular raffle. Court sources said Poe’s petitions were raffled off to Associate Justices Marvic Leonen and Mariano del Castillo.
Under the court’s rules, the Chief Justice could act on urgent petitions, which later on must be upheld by a majority of the 15 justices.
Sereno issued the two TROs on the recommendation of Leonen and Del Castillo.
Poe’s lawyer George Garcia said he would bring a motion today for the consolidation of the two cases.
He said he would bring another motion for the inhibition of three Supreme Court justices on the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET)—Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Arturo Brion and Antonio Carpio—who voted against Poe in a case brought by Rizalito David for her ouster from the Senate, also for not being a natural-born Filipino and not meeting the residency requirement when she ran for senator in the 2013 elections.
The SET voted 5-4 to junk David’s petition. David, who lost the 2013 senatorial election, appealed the SET decision to the Supreme Court.
The court will also hear oral arguments on David’s case on Jan. 19.
Also thanking the Supreme Court, Poe’s camp said the high tribunal clearly saw “the grave abuse of authority committed by the Comelec.”
“This move prevents further damage to our democracy. We are confident that in the coming days, as the legal points are threshed out, the [Supreme Court] will see the merits of our position that Senator Poe is a natural-born Filipino and has met the [residency requirement],” Poe’s spokesperson, Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian, said in a text message.
Poe’s running mate, Sen. Francis Escudero, commended the Supreme Court for its swift action.
“By acting expeditiously despite being on a holiday break, the high tribunal, through Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, once again showed that it is just, impartial and our saving grace, the Comelec notwithstanding,” Escudero said.
“I thank the [Supreme Court] for saving Senator [Poe] and the right of our people to choose and decide [their leaders],” he said.
On Monday was the end of the five-day period the Comelec had given Poe to secure an injunction from the Supreme Court after the full commission upheld on Dec. 23 the decisions of its two divisions to cancel the senator’s COC because she was not a natural-born Filipino and that she did not meet the residency requirement for presidential candidates.
Had the Supreme Court failed to issue the TROs on Monday, the Comelec would have proceeded to strike Poe’s name from the list of presidential candidates in next year’s general elections.
Monday’s action by the Supreme Court mooted a petition brought by former Sen. Francisco Tatad asking the Comelec to remove Poe’s name from the list should the tribunal fail to order a halt to the senator’s disqualification.
Tatad, De La Salle University professor Antonio Contreras and former University of the East College of Law dean Amado Valdez brought the petition for Poe’s disqualification, charging that she was not a natural-born Filipino and she did not meet the residency requirement.
The Comelec’s First Division granted their petition on Dec. 11.
On Dec. 1, the Comelec’s Second Division granted the petition brought by former government lawyer Estrella Elamparo asking the commission to cancel Poe’s COC, also charging that the senator was not a natural-born Filipino and did not meet the residency requirement.
Five members of the seven-member commission voted to uphold the two divisions’ decisions on Dec. 23.
In the petitions they filed in the Supreme Court on Monday, Poe’s lawyers reiterated that Poe, who was abandoned in a church in Iloilo province shortly after birth in 1968 and whose parents remain unknown, is presumed to be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, that international law recognize her as such, and that her reacquisitioned of Filipino citizenship meant she also acquired natural-born status. With reports from Christine O. Avendaño and Jocelyn R. Uy
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