Lawyers urge SC to resolve Poe case with dispatch
The Supreme Court should immediately resolve the petition of Senator Grace Poe seeking a reversal of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) decision ordering the cancellation of her Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for the 2016 Presidential election.
Lawyers said if the high court would affirm the disqualification of Poe, the votes cast for her would be rendered worthless.
The high court has already concluded the oral arguments last Tuesday. It has conducted five sessions of oral arguments for the case that started last January 19. All the parties were ordered to submit their memoranda by Monday, after which, the case is deemed submitted for resolution.
Election law expert Atty. Edgardo Carlo Vistan II said the high court should immediately resolve the case.
He said if Poe is disqualified and the Comelec started printing the ballots, all votes for Poe will be wasted, will be considered stray.
“It is important that the Supreme Court resolve the disqualification cases against Sen. Grace Poe expeditiously,” said Vistan, adding that just because the Comelec had already started printing the 57 million ballots does not make the resolution of the Poe cases less urgent.
He said that if Poe is disqualified, the Comelec may still opt for contingencies after her inclusion in the ballots.
“Even if the ballots would be printed already with Sen. Poe’s name as one of the presidential candidates, there is still an urgent need for a speedy resolution of the case so that the Comelec can make appropriate adjustments to the automated vote counting and canvassing protocols or procedures in case Sen. Poe is disqualified,” he said.
“In case her disqualification is upheld and people still mistakenly vote for her on May 9, the votes cast in favor of Senator Poe cannot be credited to her as they would be considered stray votes,” he added in a text message.
Vistan said the high court could resolve the case earlier if only it conducted the oral argument more than once a week.
“The Court had a chance to avoid such an unfortunate situation wherein votes for Senator Poe would be wasted by resolving the case with finality before the ballots were printed but it failed to do so.”
“I believe that if the Supreme Court had conducted oral arguments twice or three times a week, it would have been able to resolve the case with finality before the printing of ballots, even if it would take six or seven sessions of oral arguments before the Court decided the case,” he added.
Like Vistan, former Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) President Vicente Joyas believed that the high court should have resolved the case with dispatch.
However, he said the high court should be given”reasonable time to hear and decide the case because of significant issues involved.”
Earlier, Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte also made the same appeal to the Supreme Court.
“I can’t understand why they are taking so long to decide on it. They have to make a decision as soon as possible. Let’s not drag this. If they have to drop everything, then concentrate on it,” Belmonte said in a television interview.
Drilon said “this is not an ordinary case. It will have a vast impact on our future. Having oral arguments once a week, that is not giving it the urgency it deserves. I’m not dictating on the court, but it is very frustrating because we know for certain that the court could hasten the process by conducting marathon hearings.” TVJ