Grace Poe’s DQ case: You ain’t seen nothin’ yet


Senator Grace Poe’s victory in the Supreme Court was supposed to boost her campaign. Yet in the latest Pulse Asia survey done after the justices voided the Commission on Elections decision canceling her certificate of candidacy, her rating dropped, while that of Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte gained.

Perhaps Poe’s recent TV ads anticipating her High Court win had already boosted her grade, so when the decision came, its impact was limited. Even if her grade rose, the remaining time before the May 9 polls is longer than it took trailing candidates to catch up and win past elections.

Between March 19 and May 4, 2004, then President Gloria Arroyo passed erstwhile topnotcher Fernando Poe Jr. in the Social Weather Stations survey, rising from 2 percentage points behind to 7 ahead, equivalent to a lead of 2 million votes. In about the same period, March 22 to May 3, 2010, then Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay leapt from 21 percent to 37 percent, tying with Mar Roxas, who slid from 42 percent.

But the real caveat to the High Court’s boost for Poe’s Palace bid comes if and when she looks set to win.

Delaying the count
If she garners top votes in unofficial Comelec and citizens’ counts, lawmakers backing her rivals could petition Congress, which conducts the official canvassing for president and vice-president, not to start until the “prejudicial question” of Poe’s citizenship, as the lawmakers might call it, is definitively settled by the Supreme Court.

Like the Comelec motion for reconsideration on the DQ case, filed last week, anti-Poe lawmakers could cite the dissenting opinion of Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio in her DQ case. He believed there was no majority of participating justices voting to declare her a natural-born Filipino, as required by Court rules.

Depending on what the dominant coalition in Congress wants, the lawmakers’ petition to defer canvassing may or may not prosper. If it does, Poe might then petition the Supreme Court to compel Congress to begin its official count. If the SC accepts the petition, it could pit the Judicial branch against the Legislative.

What if the High Court resolves the Comelec MR by voting with a clear majority to declare Poe a natural-born citizen? It may discourage lawmakers seeking to delay the count, but they could still press the citizenship issue if only to focus public attention on it, in case it is again questioned if and when Poe is declared winner.

More lobbying ahead
Why would her qualifications come up again when they were already ruled upon in her DQ case? One reason is that the Comelec decision overturned by the High Court did not disqualify Poe as President, but merely canceled her certificate of candidacy because the COC allegedly contained false information regarding her citizenship and her residency.

The SC voted on those qualifications, but its 9-6 ruling merely declared that Poe did not willfully enter untruths in her COC and should be allowed to run.

Her qualifications as President may be questioned only if she is officially proclaimed by Congress. That challenge may be filed with the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, made up of all SC justices.

Won’t Their Honors just repeat their voting on the DQ case and throw out PET petitions questioning Poe’s presidential qualifications?

Maybe, maybe not. Magistrates can change their views, especially if they were based not on bare facts—there was no question that Poe’s biological parents were unknown—but on which legal principles to use in deciding her citizenship.

Seven justices gave value to the near-certainty that a foundling in Iloilo had Filipino parents. The five dissenters wanted those parents identified and their citizenship verified with zero doubt—impossible for a foundling.

Could those favoring the first approach be persuaded to swing to the second in a PET petition against Poe?

By then, there would be even more intense machinations than in the DQ case, since at stake would be not just who runs for President, but the presidency itself.

That means far more lobbying power and resources brought to bear, not just on whether Poe could be President, but also on who would take her place if she is DQ’d.

President vs. Vice-President vs. second-placer
So besides Poe supporters and detractors battling over her citizenship, the PET case, if adjudicated, would ignite another and probably more intense contest: Who succeeds if the President-elect is disqualified — the Vice-President-elect or the second-placer in the presidential race?

In local election cases over the decades, when winners were disqualified due to ineligibility, the Supreme Court repeatedly changed rulings, favoring the vice-mayor in most cases, and the second-placer in some, as researched by Atty. John Carlo Gil Sadian of the Center for Strategy, Enterprise and Intelligence (CenSEI).

In the 1912 case Topacio vs. Paredes, the SC ruled against the second placer. In Santos vs. Comelec in 1985, the High Court abandoned the Topacio doctrine and installed the No. 2 candidate.

Four years later in Labo vs. Comelec, the Court overturned Santos and reinstated Topacio, so the Baguio City vice-mayor succeeded the DQ’d mayor. Rulings in 1992 up to 2010 also barred the No. 2 from taking over.

However, CenSEI’s Sadian notes, in the latest decision on Maquiling vs. Comelec just in 2013, the Supreme Court once again abandoned the Topacio and Labo doctrines and installed the second-placer in the Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, mayoralty races after the winner was disqualified on citizenship grounds.

Under this latest ruling, votes cast in favor of a candidate eventually declared ineligible are disregarded, making the second-placer the top vote-getter and, therefore, the winner.

Whoever gets the PET nod must hope there is no further ruling change. Hence, a Tribunal-installed President must be nice to the Supreme Court. And no prizes for guessing the first question which that future leader would ask nominees to the SC.

Through all this, some justices might sigh that life would have been simpler if one name were not on the ballot. Or smile that personages packing power and pesos are constantly beating a path to their chambers.


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  1. So to prevent such aberrations especially in the light of the recent declaration of tsaynah that they own the whole West Philippine Sea and their more recent incursions into Malaysian territorial waters, it is high time that one leader should rise, stop all these shenanigans, ego-tripping and power brokering and put everything into their proper perspectives. Right now, we just need a martial law to put a new constitution in place and elect new leaders in a period of three months. Let all justices of the new Supreme Court be elected by their peers instead of being appointed by a President.

  2. Harold Imperial on

    Even Grace Poe’s answer about her citizenship was spot on! As more information about the government becomes available to you, you would be more brilliant, that’s for sure. May God lead you to Malacanang, Grace Poe. #POE2016

  3. Leodegardo Pruna on

    In such circumstance, P-Noy and this administration may declare a failure of election and therefore would continue to sit to the delight of aligned business whose only interest is to stay and continue playing the field. God save the Philippines.

  4. Vicente Carino on

    Sour graping analysis… A clear SC majority ( a winning margin over sub-sets selections was a clear majority ,that even an elementary students conducting their class election had the same understanding if the votation turned out to be 7 , 5 , and 3 as long the 15 SC participated on the deliberations and the 3 SC doesnt want to cast their vote on the NBFC issue which was one of the SUB SET for thier selections. Ano kaya ang mahirap intindihin sa nangyaring botohan…wala po …kayo lang pong mga journalist na ayaw tumanggap ng katotohanan ang TWISTING facts to suits your wrong agendas.

  5. Mr. Saludo’s article of today only exposes more how dis-functional the Supreme Court have been especially during this PNoy term. The dis-function only add to the fact that politics already infiltrated the core of our Judicial branch because of political appointees being preferred rather than educational back ground, experience and accomplishments.

    • ernie del rosario on

      Excuse me “disfunction” is spelled “dysfunction.” Sorry but you are correct, using plain logic. If you ask me, I don’t know why it is spelled that way. It shd logically be spelled “disfunction” but is illogically spelled “dysfunction.” I don’t know what “dys” means but I know what “dis” means. When used as prefix to “function,” it means does not function correctly. Ergo tama and connotation. This is as mysterious as the Poe case where the SC decided on a discombobulated basis. To resolve this mystery what is needed is the antonym or opposite of discombobulation. Some antonyms are enlightening, clearing up, clarifying, etc. Ergo there is a need for the SC to execute to follow those antonyms. Tapoes !

  6. taga palm springs on

    Will God favor a lying Grace Poe? Does anyone foresee what will be the outcome of this national election? So many questions to ask! But anyhow if somebody will campaign and tell the people that the next president of the Philippines is an American Citizen! We’ll see what will happen in the near future!

    • This is not only about GPL. It may seem complicated but we know, except Miriam, the four are undoubtedly PNoy’s cover come the end of his term. We can just have to stay tuned as how this game they play will pan out. He is now seeing in the face what Confucius teaching “Do not do unto others, what you do not want others to do unto you.” That is with regards to how he had handled the pursuit to his kind of “Justice” to PGMA.

  7. In life, uncorrected wrongs create more problems; right always prevails. In the case of Llamanzares-Poe’s candidacy and possible election, it would be a case of adding further rift, division and confusion in a corrupt environment. I hope the SC will not fail us.

    May God save the Philippines!