DQ of Grace Poe ‘won’t be a surprise’
A Supreme Court ruling upholding the Commission on Elections disqualification of Sen. Grace Poe from running for President based solely on lack of residency would not be a big surprise, according to two legal experts.
Reacting to reports about a purported draft court decision disqualifying Poe for not meeting the 10-year residency requirement, election lawyers Edgardo Carlo Vistan II and Romulo Macalintal believe that setting aside the more complicated issue of whether or not Poe is a natural-born citizen may well be the more practical decision for the court.
Rumors about how the court will rule on the Poe case have been going around since the case was submitted for resolution on Feb. 22.
One report said Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, the magistrate assigned to write the decision, had drafted a ponencia unfavorable to Poe.
Another pertained to a supposed draft court decision upholding the Comelec disqualification of Poe for not meeting the 10-year residency requirement but setting aside the more complicated question of her natural-born status.
Macalintal and Vistan said the latter draft decision, if true, would not be a surprise as the residency question would be much easier to resolve given the facts of the case.
“Citizenship merely involves legal interpretation while residency is factual or based on facts and evidence,” Macalintal said.
According to Vistan, the magistrates may have agreed that if they have a majority vote on the issue of residency, they will not have to tackle the citizenship question “to avoid an issue that they might think is more controversial and the answer to which might change once it’s ascertained who Poe’s biological parents are.”
“Maybe they are also thinking that even if the identities of Poe’s real parents are ascertained, her disqualification in the aspect of the 10-year residency requirement would not change,” he said.
But Vistan, who believes there is “strong” evidence to prove that Poe had failed to meet the residency requirement, said he hoped that the high court would not stop at the residency issue and eventually settle all aspects and questions on Poe’s qualifications.
Other lawyers, meanwhile, said the Supreme Court should be left alone while it decides the case.
“Respect its silence at this time that the members are contemplating and thoroughly examining the arguments presented,” said Poe’s lawyer George Garcia.
Lawyer Manuelito Luna, who represents one of the petitioners against Poe, sees the leaks as attempts to influence the court. With Tarra Quismundo
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