Three Supreme Court (SC) justices who participated and voted in a disqualification complaint filed against Sen. Grace Poe at the Senate Electoral Tribunal have inhibited themselves from the case that is pending before the High Court.
Senior Justices Antonio Carpio, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and Arturo Brion will not participate in deliberation of the case because they are among the members of the electoral tribunal.
The other members are Senators Loren Legarda, Cynthia Villar, Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th, Vicente Sotto 3rd and Nancy Binay.
Of the five senators, only Binay voted to disqualify Poe.
Rizalito David, who sought Poe’s disqualification, questioned the tribunal’s decision at the High Court.
The SC en banc came out with a resolution on Monday saying Carpio, de Castro and Brion will have no part in resolution of David’s petition because of their prior participation in the Senate Electoral Tribunal.
The three justices, however, refused to inhibit themselves from a petition filed by Poe appealing a decision of the Commission on Elections en banc disqualifying her from joining the presidential race for not being a natural-born Filipino.
Sources of The Manila Times said Carpio, Brion and de Castro will “participate, deliberate and vote” in cases involving Poe emanating from the poll body on questions of her citizenship and residency.
Two Comelec cases are pending at the High Court — GR No. 221697 entitled Poe vs Comelec and Estrella Elamparo and GR No. 221698-700 entitled Poe vs Comelec, Francisco Tatad, Antonio Contreras and Amado Valdez.
Tatad, in his comment filed also on Monday, asked the SC to dissolve the order it issued stopping the Comelec from disqualifying Poe and dropping her from the list of presidential candidates.
The former senator manifested that the temporary restraining order that the tribunal issued should be lifted and set aside since the poll body did not abuse its power when it disqualified Poe.
Tatad, through counsel Manuelito Luna, stated that the Comelec “acted within the bounds of its power and functions when it denied [Poe’s] motion for reconsideration and canceled her certificate of candidacy for President in connection with the May 9, 2016 national and local elections.”
“Being a foundling, and thus, could not say if she were born of a Filipino father or a Filipino mother, petitioner Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe Llamanzares could not lay claim to Philippine citizenship, much less natural-born status. Not being a natural-born Filipino citizen, petitioner Poe, cannot be allowed to run, much less elected to the presidency, in the May 9, 2016 national and local elections,” the former senator said.
Tatad urged the SC to junk Poe’s petition and deny her motion for the consolidation of disqualification cases filed against her.
Government lawyers also on Monday said Poe is a natural-born Filipino citizen.
Solicitor General Florin Hilbay argued that the senator holds all the qualifications to be considered a natural-born citizen.
According to Hilbay, representing the Senate Electoral Tribunal, “between two interpretations of the Constitution, one discriminatory and the other inclusive, it is reasonable to take that interpretation that is consistent with the grander principles of the Constitution.”
“The 1934 Constitutional Convention specifically tackled the problem involving the potential vagueness of the political status of foundlings and the proposed solution was an inclusive policy the effect of which was to recognize them, explicitly or implicitly, as Filipino citizens.
“The exchange among the members of the convention was not whether to recognize foundlings as Filipinos, but only whether they should be specifically mentioned in the Constitution as Filipinos, that is, whether there was even a need to have them specifically recognized as Filipinos,” records stated.
Hilbay said the absence of the word “foundling” should not be read as an exclusion for those who are considered as Philippine citizens as he pointed out that “to insist on the simplistic view that the absence in the text of a recognition of the political status of foundlings meant a denial of such status would be to impute on the framers of the 1936 Constitution a discriminatory intent that is nowhere in the records, and as if the members of the Constitutional Convention of 1935 were so fixated with the racial purity of Filipinos.”
“[T]he disadvantage suffered by foundlings is precisely their inability to establish Filipino filiation through the normal route of producing an ordinary birth certificate… [t]he honorable court need not convert this inability into a legal disability,” he added.