Palace allays ‘NoEl’ fears

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Malacañang on Tuesday dismissed a warning from Sixto Brillantes Jr., former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman, that the May 2016 national and local polls might not happen unless the Supreme Court (SC) acts swiftly on disqualification cases against two presidential candidates and on petitions to stop reuse of Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in this year’s balloting.

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Its spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, said whatever the SC’s decision on the matter will be, the elections will push through.

“We would like to believe the Supreme Court is cognizant of the expectations of the people. Speculations are not helpful,” Lacierda told reporters in a text message.

Brillantes feared of having no automated elections at all should the tribunal delay its decision on the pending cases because the official campaign period begins on February 9, 2016 for national candidates.

If the SC takes its sweet time, “it will be chaotic. We are looking at a scenario where there could be a suspension of elections . . . but not no-elections [or ‘NoEl’],” he said.

Earlier, the Comelec en banc junked two motions for reconsideration (MR) filed by Sen. Grace Poe against the previous ruling of the First and Second Divisions canceling her certificate of candidacy for President.

At the time, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said Poe’s name will remain on the list of presidential candidates until the poll body’s decision becomes final and executory.

Last December 28, Poe’s camp filed an urgent petition before the High Court asking it to issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) or status quo ante order against the Comelec ruling, and to reverse its decision disqualifying her from running for President in the 2016 elections.

On the same day, the High Court issued two TROs against implementation of the December 23 commission en banc ruling.

The Comelec cases will be the subject of oral arguments before the SC on January 19 together with the Senate Electoral Tribunal case where Poe was declared a natural-born Filipino citizen.

Despite the TRO, the Comelec said its schedule of preparations remains the same.

“I don’t see any delay . . . Basically what happened prior to today was that the names were on the list so since that it won’t change, there is no effect on the timetable,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said.

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