For now, as High Court issues 2 TROs stopping COC cancellation
Embattled presidential aspirant Sen. Grace Poe got what she badly needed on Monday, not just once, but twice.
Just before the close of official business hours, the Supreme Court issued two separate temporary restraining orders (TROs) stopping the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from enforcing its decision to disqualify the senator from running in next year’s elections and from removing her name from the ballot, until a final decision has been made by the High Court.
This also means that Poe remains a candidate for President, at least for now.
SC Public Information Office (PIO) chief and spokesman Theodore Te said the TROs were issued by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno since the tribunal is on recess until January 10.
The rules allow the Chief Justice to act on urgent petitions, which later on must be upheld by a majority of justices.
The TRO must be confirmed by the SC en banc when it holds its next session on January 12.
It was learned that the TROs were issued upon the recommendation of the ponente of the cases—Associate Justices Mariano del Castillo and Marvic Leonen.
Sereno has ordered the Comelec to file its comment within a “non-extendable” period of 10 days from notice.
Conduct of oral arguments was set for January 19, alongside oral arguments in the case of Rizalito David vs. Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) and Poe.
Covered by the restraining orders are the two separate decisions of the Comelec en banc that affirmed the decisions of its First and Second Divisions.
The First Division canceled Poe’s COC over questions on citizenship and residency raised by former senator Francisco Tatad, former law school dean Amado Valdez and political science professor Antonio Contreras.
The Second Division, on the other hand, canceled Poe’s COC based on a petition filed by lawyer Estrella Elamparo, stating that Poe failed to meet the constitutional requirement of a 10-year residency for presidential candidates.
“A temporary restraining order is issued, effective immediately and until further orders from this court, ordering you, respondent Comelec, your agents, representatives or persons acting in your place or stead, to cease and desist from implementing the assailed Comelec en banc resolution,” the High Court’s order stated.
The TROs were granted on the same day the petition for certiorari was filed by Poe’s lawyer George Garcia, who scored Comelec’s haste and timing in issuing two separate decisions granting petitions to disqualify his client.
The poll body came out with the decision on December 23, the last working day before the long Christmas break, and gave Poe only five calendar days, including the holidays, to seek reversal from the High Court.
Garcia earlier pointed out that the Comelec’s deadline violated the Omnibus Election Code, which states that rulings can only be implemented after 30 days.
‘Just and compassionate’
Poe hailed the decision and thanked the SC for its “just and compassionate decision.”
“I thank the Supreme Court for a just and compassionate decision. From the start, I put my full faith in the judicial process. The Comelec denied our people their choices in an open election but I am confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the truth and the spirit of the Constitution,” Poe said.
She is asking for fair consideration of the facts.
“We are confident the SC will honor previous jurisprudence on the rights of foundlings to a country and citizenship. I also pray that they will carefully look into the facts of my residence and my actual physical presence in the country,” Poe said.
Tatad earlier asked the Comelec to enforce the decision of its First Division to cancel Poe’s certificate of candidacy for President.
He also asked the poll body to drop Poe from the official list of candidates for the 2016 polls for allegedly committing “material misrepresentation” when she claimed in her COC that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen and has resided in the Philippines for at least 10 years.
In a four-page petition he filed Monday, Tatad said based on the Comelec Rules of Procedure, a decision such as the one released by the Comelec en banc last Wednesday becomes final and executory after five days.
“If at the close of office hours today no Temporary Restraining Order or similar writs of
restraint is issued by the Supreme Court upon application of the respondent, by virtue of the aforementioned rule, the decision or resolution of the commission en banc shall become final and executory the following day [December 29, 2015],” the motion read.
It said, “That being said, the enforcement of the decision or resolution of the commission’s First Division canceling the [COC] for President of the respondent becomes a matter of course.”
The Supreme Court’s move allowing Poe to run as President—at least for now—shows her case is winnable, lawmakers said.
Sherwin Gatchalian of Valenzuela City (Metro Manila), Roman Romulo of Pasig City (Metro Manila)and Ashley Acedillo of Magdalo party-list expressed such confidence after the High Court issued the TROs on the two Comelec decisions that disqualified Poe from joining the 2016 presidential derby for her not being natural-born and lack of 10-year Philippine residency—both constitutional requirements for a presidential candidate.
Magdalo is supporting Poe’s 2016 bid but not that of Poe’s running mate, Sen. Francis Escudero.
It is fielding a vice presidential candidate from one of its ranks: Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th.
WITH LLANESCA T. PANTI