One vote saves Grace

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Electoral tribunal votes 5-4 junking DQ case

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Poe

Poe

Sen. Grace Poe will get to keep her Senate seat after the nine-member Senate Electoral Tribunal on Tuesday dismissed a petition to disqualify her over her citizenship.

Except for Sen. Nancy Binay, all senator-members of the electoral tribunal voted in favor of their 47-year-old colleague.

Binay, meanwhile was joined in the voting by the three tribunal members from the judiciary, including the tribunal’s chairman, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio of the Supreme Court (SC).

Members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal were tight-lipped on the voting.

But a GMA News Online report quoted tribunal member Sen. Loren Legarda as saying only one vote decided Poe’s fate.

“It was a vote of five to four. Five dismissing the petition of Mr. [Rizalito] David, and four concurring with the petition of Mr. David. In short, five voted to uphold the natural-born citizenship of Sen. Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares, and four voted against that,” Legarda said.

The running mate of Poe’s father, Fernando Poe Jr., in the 2004 elections, she added that she and fellow senators Vicente Sotto 3rd, Pia Cayetano, Cynthia Villar and Paolo Benigno Aquino voted to dismiss the petition of David, a radio commentator.

Sotto was one of the elder Poe’s spokesmen in the 2004 polls.

He is also in the senatorial ticket of Grace Poe who is running for President in next year’s elections. Villar, meanwhile, is the wife of former Senate President Manuel Villar, president of the Nacionalista Party, which had earlier dropped hints that they are supporting Poe’s bid for the presidency.

The four who voted to disqualify Poe were Carpio, Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and Arturo Brion and Sen. Binay, daughter of Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is also running for President in 2016.

Strong message

Poe welcomed the decision of the electoral tribunal that according to her sends a strong message that the Philippines considers itself part of the global community that respects international law.

“More important, their affirmation of my natural-born status upholds the right of all foundlings in the country to the entitlements, services and protection they deserve as full citizens,” she said.

Appeal

David questioned Poe’s citizenship, arguing that being a foundling, she could not lay claim to being a natural-born citizen–a constitutional requirement for those running for a Senate seat.

He also filed a disqualification case with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on similar grounds.

David has 10 days to ask the tribunal to reconsider its decision.

Legarda said the tribunal members were advised by Carpio not to discuss the merits of the decision so as not to jeopardize the appeal process.

The Senate Electoral Tribunal, she added, must take a final decision on the case by December 10 or the deadline for the Comelec to print the ballots for the 2016 elections.

Moral victory

David said he will appeal the decision before the High Court as he claimed moral victory in the voting “because the SC justices are in my favor.”

“I will ask the SC to rule on this case with finality,” he added. “It’s confirmed by how the SC justices voted, they know their law and these people voted in my favor.”

According to David, he feels sorry for the senators who voted to deny his petition.

“It’s a pity that our senators failed to rise above their political nature,” he said. “The issue placed before them was constitutional and legal and yet they voted along political lines. Clearly, political accommodation [the decision of the senators],” David added.

No debates

Legarda described Tuesday’s voting at the Manila Polo Club at the exclusive Forbes Park in Makati City (Metro Manila) as “very calm, short, friendly.”

No debates preceded the voting.

“We respected each other’s decision,” she said.

The voting was done by raising of hands.

Legarda said two draft decisions were readied.

After the voting, a draft dismissing the petition was distributed to the tribunal members for them to sign.

According to the GMA News report, Legarda said “it was not easy” to vote on the case.

“The most important thing, I think, is this will have a great implication on foundlings. This issue goes beyond Grace Poe. Ito ay makahulugan sa mga ampon na hindi alam ang kanilang pinanggalingan [This is meaningful for those adopted who don’t know who their biological parents are],” she added.

Sotto said both sides presented good points.

He, however, said the main issue that was given weight by the members of the tribunal is the possibility of denying a foundling just because his or her parents are unknown.

“Denying a foundling to be a natural-born citizen when there is no evidence to the contrary is paramount to denying all the young children in the orphanages and all the adopted children in the country. We will be the only country in the world that [will say that]if you are adopted, you are stateless,” Sotto said.

In his separate opinion, he pointed out that it is not the fault of foundlings that their parents abandoned them.

“As the saying goes, which was popularized by late President Ramon Margsaysay, ‘He who has less in life should have more in law,’” Sotto said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Aquino, in his separate opinion submitted to the tribunal, noted that he adheres to principles under the Convention on the Rights of the Children that every child has the right to be born, to have a name and nationality and to have a family who will love and care for the child.

He cited the The Hague Convention of 1930, which provides that a child whose parents are both unknown shall have the nationality of the country where the child is born.

“We cannot deprive these foundlings of their civil and political rights. It is the basic policy set forth in the Convention on the Rights of the Children that the rights of the child should be respected without discrimination of any kind…” Aquino stated in his separate opinion.

Binay, the lone senator who voted to disqualify Poe, maintained that she based her decision on the Constitution and the evidence presented.

“As a senator of the country who was elected and entrusted by the Filipino people to uphold the law, I must make a decision based on the provisions of the Constitution. More than anyone else, a senator of the land must respect the Constitution,” she said.

Sen. Binay noted that politics did not play a part in her decision.

In fact, she said, voting against the petition and allowing Poe to pursue her presidential bid would even be beneficial to her father.

The senator cited the opinion of political analysts that his father has a bigger chance of winning the 2016 elections with more candidates because her father’s core supporters remains intact and, with Poe in the race, votes for other contenders will be split.

“It is clear that we will be violating the Constitution if we don’t disqualify her [Poe],” she said in an interview at the Manila Polo Club.

The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay said the tribunal’s decision must be respected.
“The [electoral tribunal]has already decided on the matter. The Vice President enjoins everyone to respect the decision,” said Rico Quicho, Binay’s spokesman on political matters

Not binding

David’s lawyer, Manuelito Luna, said the decision is not binding with the Comelec nor will it have a “controlling” effect on a similar case pending before the poll body’s legal department.

“This [Comelec case] is a criminal proceeding and this is handled by the law department of the Comelec, which is an independent constitutional body. It has its own rules and mandate. There’s no way the decision of [the tribunal]will have a controlling effect,” Luna told The Manila Times.

“However, persuasively, yes but not to control the proceeding at the Comelec, which is an independent constitutional body and has its own protocols to follow,” he said.

Luna explained that the cases with the electoral tribunal and the Comelec are similar in nature but have different effects.

“The one filed in the Comelec was a ‘quo warranto’ case. If Poe is found guilty, she will not only be disqualified as senator but a forgery case will also be filed against her,” he said. “Forgery is a crime.”

The tribunal’s power, on the other hand, is limited only at the most to unseating Poe as a senator.

Quo warranto is a legal proceeding during which an individual’s right to hold an office or government position is challenged.

Luna said he has to review the decision first but “in the event it’s a political decision and the senators disregarded the Constitution then, on the strength of the ruling in Lerias [v. Mercado] case, the SC will set aside the decision.”

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the ruling would be definitely looked into by electoral bodies that are handling Poe’s four disqualification cases for President and one for senator.

“The [tribunal’s] ruling will, of course, be taken into consideration by the Comelec divisions hearing the various cases in their own deliberations,” Jimenez added.”At this very moment, however, all we have is information about how the voting went.”

Poe’s case before the Comelec legal department is already up for resolution.

But the decision, whether favorable, would be still subject for review and final approval of the Comelec en banc.

Four other cases seeking to disqualify Poe from running for President have also been filed before the clerk of the commission.

They were separately filed by lawyer Estrella Elamparo, former senator Francisco Tatad, De la Salle University political science professor Antonio Contreras and former University of the East law dean Amado Valdez.

Final arbiter

Retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno said any ruling of the tribunal shall be decided by the High Court, the final arbiter.

He added that while it is true that the electoral tribunal is the “sole authority” as to the disqualification case of a senator, the SC has its expanded powers under the 1987 Constitution to review the cases decided by the tribunal on matters of “grave abuse of discretion.”

Puno said the case of Poe being a “foundling” is a case of “first impression” in the SC, adding that there is no ruling yet from the High Court on “foundlings” who sought public office.

“This is a case of first impression. There is no jurisprudence in this case [foundling],” he said.

With JOMAR CANLAS

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41 Comments

  1. if these 5 senators have a heart for foundlings, they should make a law that says a foundling is a natural-born citizen of this country..we already have a law that says a natural-born citizen must have one of the biological parents a citizen of this country..and now these 5 senators made a new law that not even passed as a bill…ridiculous..!

  2. the 3 justices are blinded by legalities & technicalities – all injustices to the foundlings – putting aside common sense, fairness & justice to foundlings….

  3. Come on guys SET is not a place to discuss LAW unlike the SC. as one analyst have said at SET law and politics intertwined … got it mga dudes????

  4. Well, i hope that the SC would rule in her favor! Since it’s the first time that a foundling will run for a higher post. Hoping for the best!

  5. Thankful that these Senators made the right choice. This isn’t just about Poe but of all the foundlings. They have every right as natural-born citizens of this country. God bless Sen. Poe!

  6. This decision will change the lives of all the foundlings in the Philippines. Now that they’re considered natural born citizens, they will be given the same exact rights as we are as it definitely should be. Proud of the Senators for stepping up, setting aside their differences, and fighting for the rights of foundlings.

    • Shame on you . Senator Sotto is voted by the majority of the Pilipino people. How in the world can you say that he has no brain. I will tell you this, something is wrong with you. You have to consult your doctor.

  7. Expected that these senatongs will vote according to their personal interest only na kung saan ang meron kita, doon sila. Ang boto no Bam Aquino ay patunay na namamangka si Noynoy sa dalawang ilog?

  8. jose taganahan on

    The argument that the Decision of the 3 SC Justices, (together with Sen. Nancy Binay)who voted in favor of the petition to disqualify Sen. Poe from the Senate is not political but base on the law and the Constitution does not hold water considering that the said three (3) Justices were appointees of GMA who stole the Presidency from FPJ in 2004.

  9. Di wow! But its to early for Ms Grace Llamanzares to celebrate. The real legal battle will be in the Supreme Court en banc. What can we expect from those senators? They have fooled the Filipino people once. Senators Sotto, Legarda, Cayetano, and Villar (thru her husband) voted in the impeachment of CJ Renato Corona along political and DAP lines. Can it be different now? Sen. Bam Aquino? Just like his cousin Pinocchio, he lacks intellectual capacity to render fair judgment.

  10. Francisco Sevilla on

    This only shows that we have a government of men and not of laws. This a question of law. Those who voted to uphold the DQ case have the law in their minds while those who voted against it have politics in their minds.

    • Gone were the days of hybrid policitians where we can discern the passion and intelligence of crafting laws.

      Today we have bunch elected politicians who love to be a sophist or ignorant of what they are doing.

      It’s all legal sophistry.

  11. In a case of first impression, let FPJ’s case be a precedent- let the electorate decide. The people are, in fact, the final arbiter esp in election cases.

    Why did I predict that Sen. Binay will vote against Grace? For a chance to single-handedly beat Poe whose father won’t be able to do in 2016.

    Carpio lacks common sense, blinded by his title and his wrong interpretation of the law, to proclaim all foundlings naturalized at best. If Grace did not looked like Filipino, he may be plausible yet still wrong. He was on the losing side with FPJ, alas old dogs never learn.

  12. Venerando Desales on

    The spirit of the law should always be upheld than technicality. Mercy, compassion and justice should be the guide and measure.The constitution is just a framework for the Rule of Law and to protect the citizens against government abuse, yet, it should not be idolized and made a despot.

  13. To show that the politicians were ignorant and stupid, all the SC justices voted in favor of the petition.

  14. It was expected by a lot of observers and analysts that the SET decision will be based primarily on political posturing considering the fact that elections is around the corner. The senators who voted against Llamanzares’ disqualification are acting upon the premise of underlying political agenda and pursuit for personal vested interests, as opposed to abiding by the tenets of the Philippines Constitution. No amount of emotional politicking should govern above the supremacy of the Constitution. The 3 justices know the law, and rightly so concurred with its provisions. Nevertheless, Llamanzares may have triumphed in the first obstacle, but I believe that her long arduous battle has just begun its course.

  15. First round finished! The score 5-4. Except for Senator Bam Aquino, I predicted correctly the senators who voted in favor of Mrs. Grace Poe Llamanzares, and who voted against her. I had thought that Senator Bam, being a relatively new senator, would possess more integrity than he has just now exhibited, and would have voted to disqualify. Given all the facts, any reasonable person or third party who is unbiased and objective would have voted to disqualify Mrs. Llamanzares on the basis of the primacy of the Philippine Constitution over the1930 Hague Convention. Clearly a political decision on the senator’s part. His action is on par with the action of his relative PNoy, who, for political reasons, patiently wooed Mrs Llamanzares for a long long time to be the VP of Mar Roxas. Just another “trapo”, after all.

    As expected, the three justices followed the Constitution and voted accordingly. The fact that all three voted the same way is significant as ultimately, the case would be decided on legal grounds. Onward to the Supreme Court. “Time’s a wasting”.

    • Because Ms. Llamanzares, is the secret candidate of Pres. BS, that is why this do nothing senator Bum vote to trash the petition. Vote for Sen. Miriam or duterte(if he run) for president.

    • Bam is an Aquino and his cousin is an Aquino too, meaning they are both abno. Sorry for those who voted for this apprentice politician. Legarda, no wonder a trapo also, at masungit pa. Sotto? oh my God, the great plagiarist (galing mangopya) at mahilig sa Pepsi pati sa pagboto kinopya din niya sagot nung apat. Pia, abugada ka pa naman pero hindi mo alam ang batas. No wonder hiwalay ka sa asawa dahil di ka niya matake at sori kay Atty. Rene Cayetano (rip) sayang ipinagpaaral mo sa daugther mo. Villar, me business interest ito kaya wait sa bayad-utang mula kay amerikana. People, ito pong 5 na ito eh nakinabang din sa DAP dun sa kaso ni CJ Corona. Pangalawa na ito. Meron kaya at magkano? Dami din pera ni Poe or me hidden script sila ni The Third dahil siya ang second candidate ni Panot for pres? Sori boy pickup, wala ka na namang alam…

  16. You said, “Binay, the lone senator who voted to disqualify Poe, maintained that she based her decision on the Constitution and the evidence presented.”. Not true. Binay based her decision on political reasons. It is obvious that in some surveys, Binay is number 3 and the Binay camp has to make sure to eliminate Poe for Binay to have more chances of winning. Majority of those who filed DQ cases are financed by the Binay camp like Valdez who constantly screw the laws in his opinions in favor of Binay. Where is now Tiangco. Remember that it was Tiangco who has originally questioned the citizenship of Poe. Tiangco is so quiet making more plans on how to disqualify Llamanzares.

    • as political analysts predict, Binay will win if there are 4 or more candidates…so there…if Poe can run as president,a favor for Binay…how could Binay finance the disqualification of Poe?

  17. the only way for mar roxas to win the presidency, at best, is if pnoy influences the comelec chair. his appointee. the appointee, the head of comelec, then turns around and influences the comelec’s law department to rule against grace poe. afterall, she has to be out of the picture. it will then be a fight between mar roxas and jejomar binay, sr. the circle will be completed if and when mar roxas wins because the administration cheated or doctored the pcos machines’ results to favor mar roxas. or if they charge binay and then convict him to get him out of the way. again, only in the philippines.

  18. adonis b. rocha on

    The 5-4 decision of SET is but a bullshit political accomodation. A law should apply to everybody no matter what… or there is no law at all. The letter of the law is clear and the supreme has decided twice on two politicians whose cases are but the same as Grace Poe’s case. When this reached the SC, all the hopes of Grace Poe shall crumble in fast vertical spin. Its the height of ignaorance and stupidity of some senators quoting international law on such foundlings for which the Philippines was not even a signatory. You cant invent that which is not part of Philippines law….otherwise, we apply the law of the jungle. Mr. David is correct to bring this up to SC for finality as passing back the appeal to SET is but a sure waste of time,…SET wont reverse their “hocus pocus” decision.

  19. JEFF JARAMILLO on

    None of the Senator SET members are holder of law degree. In fact, some clowns, some are entertainers, plain housewife, etc. With them in the senate, what do we expect? Philippine Senate is no longer contributing for the betterment of the country. It should now be converted into a theater.

    • NO, not just a theater. It should be a turned into (no, it already is) a uni-sex national whorehouse ! It is prostituting the entire nation !

  20. None of the SC Justices voted in favor of Poe , which means the decision of the 5 senators to quash the DQ case is political in essence. Sympathy lies and is in effect not to harm your housemate. However, with three Senators who are obvious to be “BRIBE TAKERS” as signified in the Corona impeachment, their votes are not credible to convince they voted according to the laws. SOTTO, LEGARDA and CAYETANO are sitting Senators with questionable honesty. They are all facing unexplained disbursements with their PDAF and are all scott-free as they are protected with the PDAF/DAP KING. 2016 elections is fast approaching and as a concerned Filipino, I am praying for a major change in the governments such that these CROOKS IN COATS will find their places in jail.

  21. For me the senators who believed in citizenship of Grace Poe is made a good decision to vote her, as far as I know Poe is from Iloilo City got by Fernando Poe Jr and Susan Roces, So it means she was born here in the Philippines definitely she have right to become a leader of the country and she might to run next election. She is responsible Filipino.

    • Stick with your belief then but question: kelan ka ba ipinanganak? What is the extent of your knowledge about your claim?

  22. Now that the question of Grace Poe’s citizenship has been decided in her favor, it’t time for Grace Poe to move on – to Malacanang!

    • Not too fast ! There are still 5 more (or more to come) difficult hurdles (not involving Senators) she has to go through.

    • Not too fast ! There are still 5 more (or more to come) difficult hurdles (not involving Senators) she has to go through. The SET voting only CERTIFIED how debased-to-the -max the Senate has become. Useful information for us Filipinos sooner or later.

  23. God Bless to those 5 senators who did the right thing. I honestly thought Bam Aquino and Pia Cayetano would vote against Grace Poe. They proved that the Philippines recognizes the international law and that foundlings can run for public office too. I am horrified that the 3 justices voted against her, implying a foundling’s rights are limited.