Disqualification cases filed against Sen. Grace Poe have placed the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in a quandary.
The Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), throwing out a complaint against Poe, also rejected claims that the senator is not a natural-born Filipino. The Commission on Elections (Comelec), however, disqualified the senator because the commission believes that she is not natural-born and failed to meet the residency requirement for presidential aspirants, having lived in the US for years.
Faced with clashing stands, the OSG took the side of the Senate Electoral Tribunal.
On Tuesday, Solicitor General Florin Hilbay filed a manifestation at the Supreme Court that it cannot handle cases involving Poe emanating from the Comelec.
Hilbay said since government lawyers first handled the case at the electoral tribunal, they can no longer represent the Comelec, which disqualified Poe on issues of citizenship and residency.
“The Office of the Solicitor General respectfully manifests that, in view of its comment in [Rizalito] David vs. Senate Electoral Tribunal et al, the OSG cannot file the required comment on behalf of the Commission on Elections,” the OSG said.
Hilbay notified Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista of the decision not to represent the Comelec in view of the conflicting decisions of the electoral tribunal and the commission.
The OSG, in its comment on the motion questioning the tribunal’s ruling on Poe’s case, said the senator is a natural-born Filipino.
It added that the electoral tribunal did not err when it ruled that Poe reacquired her natural-born citizenship when she executed an oath of allegiance to the Philippines on July 7, 2006.
The decision of the OSG not to represent the poll body prompted the Comelec to ask the High Court for more time to file its comment on the case.
In a separate manifestation of the Comelec, dated January 5, 2016, it prayed for additional five days to submit its comment.
The Manila Times learned that Comelec Commissioners Rowena Guanzon and Arthur Lim may represent the poll body when the SC hears oral arguments on January 19, 2016.
Malacañang has denied having any hand in Hilbay’s decision not to handle the Comelec cases against Poe.
“The comment of the Office of the Solicitor General was part of its job as government’s legal representative in this case of the Senate Electoral Tribunal,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said also on Tuesday.