Comelec appeals Supreme Court’s ruling in Poe’s favor

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The Commission on Elections (Comelec) appealed the Supreme Court ruling allowing Sen. Grace Poe to run for president in the May 9, 2016 elections.

The Supreme Court voted 9-6 last March 8 to grant the petition of Poe, finding grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Comelec for its rulings disqualifying her in the upcoming election.

In a 56-page motion for reconsideration, the Comelec asked the Supreme Court to reconsider the March 8 decision and affirm Poe’s disqualification for material misrepresentation in her residency and citizenship eligibilities, which are constitutional requirements for presidential candidates.

“With due respect, the court should re-examine its majority decision, for its legal and constitutional infirmities and, more importantly, for having heightened political passions in the country that could ignite civil strife,” Comelec’s appeal read.

The Comelec also asked the justices to again deliberate on the case and conduct another round of voting, arguing that there was no majority vote finding Poe as a natural-born Filipino qualified to be president.

“There is no factual or legal basis for the ruling that the petitioner is a qualified candidate for president in the May 9, 2016 national elections. There is therefore a need for the court to re-deliberate and re-vote on the issue of citizenship to avoid the dire repercussions that the majority decision has brought in its wake,” it stressed.

The Comelec cited the dissenting opinion of Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio. The Comelec explained that Section 2, Rule 12 of the Supreme Court Internal Rules of Procedures provided that when “the necessary majority vote cannot be had, the Court shall deliberate on it anew.”

“Such action of re-deliberating and re-voting will serve as a shining example to the Bar and Bench that in deciding a case, especially one involving the fundamental law, nothing but the Constitution, law and jurisprudence should be the overriding factors and considerations,” it added.

In his dissenting opinion, Carpio claimed that only seven of his colleagues voted in favor of Poe as a natural-born Filipino, while five of them voted against her on the issue of citizenship. The remaining three, meanwhile, voted that such issue was not ripe for adjudication.

In the same motion, the Comelec also echoed the dissenting opinion of Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro and insisted that Poe was not compliant with the 10-year residency requirement under the Constitution.

The poll body also said the requirement of “deliberate intent to mislead, misinform or hide a fact” in candidates’ certificates of candidacy (COC) “should be revisited and clarified as unnecessary” when disqualifying them.

The main decision gave weight to Poe’s declaration that the mistake in her COC was an honest one and done in good faith.

The Comelec also rebutted the statistics presented by the Office of the Solicitor General during oral arguments to show that Poe, a foundling from Iloilo in September 1968, was most probably a natural-born Filipino.

“The statistics presented by the Solicitor General and the petitioner does not constitute even substantial evidence that petitioner was born to a Filipino parent, and hence is a natural-born citizen,” said the Comelec.

“By considering the statistics presented by the Solicitor General, the (decision) unfairly ascribed grave abuse of discretion to the Comelec on the basis of evidence that it had no opportunity to rule upon,” it further stated.

Comelec Commissioner Luie Guia expressed hope the Supreme Court would consider the power of the Comelec to determine the eligibility of a candidate, noting that the Comelec did not commit grave abuse of discretion in disqualifying Poe.

He noted the law is very clear that the Comelec has the power and that power in many cases has been upheld.

“The grounds that we had advanced, we hope that the court will consider,” Guia explained, stressing that the Comelec did not commit grave abuse of discretion in disqualifying Poe from running for the presidency,” said Guia.

However, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno dismissed Carpio’s stand, saying there was a majority vote resolving Poe’s citizenship because only 12 justices opted to participate in the voting. She stressed that a vote of 7-5 was clearly constituting a majority. (MCA)

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