Commissioners of the Commission on Election(Comelec) sitting in an en banc session on Tuesday upheld the rulings of the First and Second Divisions cancelling Sen. Grace Poe’s certificate of candidacy (COC) for President, a report in an online news portal said.
A GMA News report, quoting sources, said the poll body dismissed Poe’s separate appeal on the rulings made by the First and Second Divisions and upheld the verdict that the 47-year-old senator is not a natural-born citizen and also failed to meet the 10-year residency requirement.
The two requirements are set for candidates for President under the 1987 Constitution.
The report said the Comelec is expected to promulgate the decisions on Wednesday.
The GMA News source declined to disclose how the commissioners voted, saying the rulings of the en banc are “nuanced” after it tackled issues of jurisdiction, satisfying the requirements and whether Poe committed misrepresentation in her COC.
Poe is expected to elevate her case to the Supreme Court (SC).
Former Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes earlier told The Manila Times that he expects the en banc to uphold the divisions’ ruling by a vote of 5-1.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista had said Commissioner Christian Robert Lim inhibited in the Second Division case because of conflict of interest. Lim was a partner in a law firm where the petitioner, Estrella Elamparo, was an associate.
In a briefing on Tuesday, it was announced that the seven-man Comelec en banc has decided with finality on Poe’s motions for reconsideration (MR).
Commissioner Rowena Guanzon disclosed that they would come out with the promulgated resolutions before Christmas.
“We have voted separately on both. But the other commissioners are yet finish their separate opinions so we have to wait for that,” Guanzon said. “Certainly before Christmas, these will be finished here in the Comelec.”
Guanzon explained that once the en banc has finished promulgating their decisions on the MR, the disqualified candidate has only five working days to get a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the High Court .
“If it reaches the deadline and no TRO has been secured, the disqualified candidate would not be included in the [official]ballot. I am not speaking about any particular candidate,” she pointed out.
“The sooner that we release these decisions so the parties can go to the Supreme Court, the better, not only for the parties, but also for the people,” Guanzon said.
The motions for reconsideration refer to the decision by the Comelec Second Division on the petition filed by Elamparo for cancelation of Poe’s COC, and the consolidated cases filed with the First Division by former senator Francisco Tatad, political science professor Antonio Contreras and former law school dean Amado Valdez.
When asked on Brillantes’ 5-1 voting forecast, Guanzon replied, “It was a good number but can’t confirm that yet.”
She said for a commissioner to reverse his vote in favor of Poe, there has to be new evidence, new arguments or new jurisprudence.
“The MR were exhaustive both on procedural and substantive grounds in the First Division. In fact, they cited many cases and had to study those cases also whether or not they apply,” Guanzon added.
But she said she is forbidden from divulging her vote even as she urged reporters to “analyze from the voting in the division cases.”
When also asked if the results of the voting are the same or not, she answered that “it can be different or the same but not all commissioners voted the same.”
The Second Division voted 3-0 against Poe, and 2-1 in the First Division. The ruling by the two divisions indicated that 5 of the 7 commissioners voted for the disqualification of Poe.
Also on Tuesday, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said starting December 23, they would start loading initial data on the election management system (EMS), which would include the number of precincts and the number of voters per precinct for the 2016 elections.
Also to be loaded, he added, are the names of some 54 million registered voters with biometrics and as well as the names of candidates without pending protest.
But in the case of Poe and Duterte, whose pending disqualification cases are yet to be decided with finality by the SC, Jimenez said the Comelec is inclined to include them in the initial loading, adding that the final editing of all information would be done on January 8, 2016.
“You have to understand that ultimately these cases will go to the Supreme Court. I can say, the most practical thing to do is include their names. That’s a personal opinion but it’s also a historical opinion because that was done in the past,” he added.