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SC ruling on Poe hints looming constitutional crisis–lawyers’ group

/ 07:15 PM April 04, 2016
MARCH 18, 2016 Senator Grace Poe durign the pressconference together with 30 congressma including partylist members supporting team galing at puso held at L' Fisher Hotel in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. PHOTO BY JAY MORALES

Senator Grace Poe. PHOTO BY JAY MORALES

The Supreme Court’s decision allowing Senator Grace Poe to run for president portends a looming constitutional crisis, the oldest organization of lawyers on Monday said in a statement.

Philippine Bar Association (PBA), the oldest voluntary national lawyers’ organization since 1891, said a judicial ruling is supposed to resolve issues in a legal controversy with finality.

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“Under our laws, judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws and our Constitution form part of our country’s legal system. When handed down by our Supreme Court, it assumes greater significance as it establishes legal precedent and forms part of our jurisprudence,” PBA said.

In the case of Poe, however, voting 9-6, the high court ruled that Poe is qualified to run for President. The high court said there was no misrepresentation on the part of the Senator when she declared in her certificate of candidacy that she is natural born Filipino citizen and a resident of the Philippines for at least 10years.

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But like the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), a mandatory organization of lawyers, PBA said the high court’s ruling on the case of Poe failed to resolve the question on her citizenship and residency.

“It can be concluded that the decision did not settle the matter of whether Poe is a natural-born citizen and whether she has met the residency requirement under the law,” the IBP Board of Governors said in a statement.

“While the decision appears to have rendered an opinion as to whether (Poe) is a natural-born as well as whether she has satisfied the 10-year residency requirement for the presidency, it should be emphasized that the dispositive portion of the decision merely orders the reversal of the decisions of the Commission on Elections granting the petitions to disqualify her… and states that she is qualified to be a candidate for president in the national and local elections on May 9, 2016,” it added.

Echoing IBP’s statement, PBA said the high court failed to resolve the issues “with clarity and certainty such that more questions are raised than answered.”

“When the ruling fosters confusion on long established legal principles in matters of constitutional law, citizenship, rules of evidence, burden of proof, the value of declarations made under oath, among other facets of law, the stability of our legal system,” PBA said.

PBA said the high court decision could stir a constitutional crisis with the possibility of electing a natural-born Filipino citizens on mere presumption “potentially being ousted from office by a majority vote of the Supreme Court, the resulting mandate is weakened from inception, the balance of power among the great branches of government is upset and the contentious issue of succession comes to fore.”

“And yet, is it not the Supreme Court that reminded us that ‘obedience to the Rule of Law forms the bedrock of our system of justice,’” the PBA said.

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Motions for reconsideration have already been filed before the Supreme Court.

The high court has already set for deliberation the appeals during its first en banc session in Baguio City. JE

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TAGS: disqualification, Grace Poe, Lawyer, ntegrated Bar of the Philippines, PBA, Philippine Bar Association, Poe, Supreme Court
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