Justices of the Supreme Court (SC) have until March 8, 2016 to submit their separate opinions on a disqualification case against Sen. Grace Poe.
According to well-placed sources of The Manila Times in the High Court, the justices themselves agreed to set the March 8 deadline to file their dissenting or concurring opinions, or “reflections” on a draft decision written by Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo.
The sources said there is a possibility that the justices will vote on the decision on March 8, the court’s next en banc session.
The justices, the source added, set a special en banc session on March 9 to tackle the case.
But it is also possible that a magistrate will ask for postponement, he said.If this happens, the tribunal will tackle the case on March 15.
The sources said “time is of the essence” and the magistrates are aware of the need to decide the case as soon as possible because of its urgency.
They added that March 8 and 15 are the “crucial” dates for Poe’s case because the High Court will go on a Holy Week break and will not hold an en banc session on March 22 (Holy Tuesday).
It will again take a recess on March 29.
If the SC failed to vote on March 15, then the justices would do so during summer session in Baguio City.
“If the SC en banc cannot decide by March 15, next will be the Baguio summer session on April 3. But it will be very close already to the May 9 elections,” the sources told The Manila Times.
Del Castillo’s draft decision disqualified Poe on the issue of residency. The sources, however, said it is possible that the magistrates will discuss the issue of citizenship in their own dissenting or concurring opinions.
Several disqualification cases were filed before the Commission on Elections against Poe.
The petitioners claimed that the senator should not be allowed to run for President because she is not a natural-born Filipino, being a foundling. They said Poe failed to meet the 10-year residency requirement for presidential candidates, a claim that Poe herself has denied.
The draft decision written by del Castillo, which lifts the temporary restraining order stopping the Comelec from removing Poe from the list of presidential candidates, has been circulated among the justices, including Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.