Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Mario Victor Leonen reportedly wants to have oral arguments on an appeal to nullify Sen. Grace Poe’s victory in the 2013 elections, according to a well-placed source of The Manila Times.
The source said Leonen has circulated his recommendation to other members of the court on the case filed by Rizalito David against Poe and the Senate Electoral Tribunal.
David, a radio commentator, filed a quo warranto petition with the the electoral tribunal and sought to unseat the 47-year-old senator on the ground that she failed to meet the constitutional requirements to sit as a member of the Senate.
He argued that for being a foundling with no known biological Filipino parents, Poe could not lay claim to being natural-born citizen, a requirement under the 1987 Constitution.
David also originally questioned Poe’s period of residency but he was persuaded to withdraw the issue during pre-trial conducted by the tribunal.
The Senate Electoral Tribunal then voted 5-4 dismissing David’s petition.
The voting was unchanged on appeal.
The three justice-members of the electoral tribunal–Antonio Carpio, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and Arturo Brion—voted in favor of David’s petition.
Leonen has recommended that the tribunal be ordered to file its explanation in the majority ruling, which junked the disqualification case against Poe.
In particular, under GR No. 221538, he wanted the electoral tribunal to file its comment with the High Court within 15 days and set the case for oral arguments on January 12, 2016.
“It is recommended that the respondent be required to comment on this petition and on the prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order within a non-extendable period of 15 days. It is also recommended that said case be set for oral arguments on January 12, 2016,” The Manila Times source said, quoting from a draft of Leonen’s ponencia.
The source added that Poe’s case was the first to be tackled by the SC in its last en banc session for the year.
In his petition for certiorari, David assailed the ruling of the Senate Electoral Tribunal declaring Poe a natural-born citizen “despite the absence of proof of blood ties to a Filipino father or mother.”
He said majority of the electoral tribunal members committed grave abuse of discretion in declaring Poe a natural-born citizen.
The SC was asked to void the tribunal’s majority decision and immediately issue a temporary restraining order or injunction, which would immediately disqualify Poe from running in the 2016 elections.
The senator, who previously led pre-election surveys, is running for President as an independent candidate.