Comelec asks SC to dismiss Poe petition
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the petition filed by Senator Grace Poe challenging its decision cancel her certificate of candidacy (COC) for Presidency in May 2016 elections.
Its 73-page comment, submitted by Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, maintained that it did not act with grave abuse of discretion when it ordered the cancellation of Poe’s COC.
Comelec said how can it gravely abuse its discretion when “its decision was arrived at with due regard to its rules, after hearing, with full appreciation of the pieces of evidence present and after a thorough study of the pertinent laws and jurisprudence?”
It pointed out that it merely exercised its mandate under the Constitution and other election laws.
Last Dec. 23, 2015, the Comelec en banc voted 5-2 affirming the decision of its First Division ordering the cancellation of her COC based on questions to her citizenship and residency raised by former Senator Francisco Tatad, Law Professor Antonio Contreras and former Dean of the University of the East College of Law Amado Valdez.
The Comelec en banc, with a vote of 5-1-1 upheld the decision of its Second Division that granted the petition filed by Atty. Estrella Elamparo which sought the cancellation of Poe’s COC on the ground of her failure to meet the constitutional requirement of a 10-year residency for presidential aspirants.
Poe filed two petitions for review with the Supreme Court challenging both decisions.
The Supreme Court then issued a temporary restraining order stopping the Comelec from implementing its decision and set the case for a Jan. 19, 2016 oral argument.
“The Constitution has vested to the Comelec broad powers, involving not only the enforcement and administration of all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of elections, but also the resolution and determination of election controversies,” Comelec said.
“Concomitant to such powers is the authority of the Comelec to determine the true nature of the cases filed before it. Thus, it examines the allegations of every pleading filed, obviously aware that in determining the nature of the complaint or petition, its averments, rather than its title/caption are the proper gauges,” Comelec added.
Not bound by SET ruling
Comelec, in its comment said that contrary to Poe’s argument, they are not bound by the SET ruling.
Poe, in her motion, said given that the SET decision had already been promulgated long before the Comelec Divisions issued their rulings, and was already final and executory long before the Comelec en banc promulgated its December decision, the Comelec acted with grave abuse of discretion when it disregarded the SET decision.
“The decision of the SET does not bind the Comelec. It is not a legal precedent. The SET ruling cannot circumvent nor does it preclude the Comelec from making a contrary conclusion based on applicable law and jurisprudence,” Comelec added.
Comelec said for it to abide by the SET ruling is, in effect, surrendering its independence which was enshrined in the constitution.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.