Speaker urges SC to rule on Poe DQ case soonest
THE SUPREME Court should decide in less than a month whether Sen. Grace Poe is qualified to run for President, according to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.
But Belmonte said that after obtaining a temporary restraining order (TRO) from Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno on the disqualification cases filed in the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Poe was already assured of having her name on the ballot whether or not the court renders a decision before the start of campaign next month.
“I think her name will be on the ballot. After the case is submitted, it should take at least one month. Maybe less if they prioritize it as they should,” Belmonte, the Liberal Party vice chair, said in a text message.
Last Dec. 28, Poe obtained two separate TROs signed by Sereno stopping the Comelec from canceling her certificate of candidacy (COC) due to questions on her citizenship and residency eligibility.
Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian, a Poe spokesperson, said: “We do not wish to preempt the SC when it comes to their timetable. We trust their judgment and wisdom on the timing of the next series of legal events, but we are hoping and praying that these legal challenges are resolved soon. At the soonest possible time.”
Nationalist People’s Coalition president Giorgidi Aggabao said Poe’s case should be “ripe for resolution” by the end of this month.
“The oral arguments has been set on Jan. 18. After the oral arguments, the parties are normally directed to file their memoranda simultaneously within 10 days. I am hoping the decision comes out by February at the latest. There should be no reason for delay,” said the Isabela representative.
“I am also hoping the SC shuns the expedient of dragging the case till after elections and leave it to the people to be the final arbiter. Many would view that as a judicial stunt but it’s probably worse because that means the SC did not do its job to help people decide who to vote,” Aggabao said.
Former An-Waray Rep. Florencio Noel said the Poe camp was hopeful that the high court would decide on Poe’s case with dispatch as the lingering uncertainty on Poe’s status had an adverse effect on her support base, reflected on the drop in her popularity survey rankings.
Noel noted that the same ploy to undermine Poe’s candidacy was similar to the scheme hatched against her father, the late Fernando Poe Jr., when he ran for President in 2010.
It took the Supreme Court up to March 2004, or just two months before Election Day, before it issued a ruling allowing the senator’s adoptive father to run. The court upheld the Comelec decision which deemed the elder Poe as a natural-born citizen and qualified to run. In the senator’s case, Poe has no proof she has Filipino parents because she was abandoned as a baby.
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