Sen. Grace Poe and his running mate, Sen. Francis “Chiz’ Escudero, on Thursday said they are already expecting the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to affirm an earlier ruling to disqualify her from next year’s presidential race.
“I know that this journey would not be smooth and I’m ready for it. And I see that it’s very likely that the Comelec will not decide in my favor,” Poe said in Filipino.
“But whatever the decision, I’d like to read whether they even considered the documents we submitted to them,” she added.
The poll body’s Second Division earlier gave merit to a disqualification case filed by lawyer Estrella Elamparo, who questioned Poe’s citizenship and residency and ruled to cancel the senator’s certificate of candidacy (COC).
The Second Division agreed with Elamparo’s argument that the 47-year-old senator is short of the 10-year residency requirement.
Under Article 7, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution, in order to serve as President, one must be: at least 40 years old and above; a registered voter; able to read and write; a Filipino citizen by birth; and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding elections.
Elamparo claimed that Poe committed “material misrepresentation” when she indicated that she has met all of above-mentioned requirements.
The Elamparo complaint is under review by the Comelec en banc.
Poe faces three more disqualification cases before the Comelec, all assailing her claim to being a natural-born citizen and her claimed period of residency in the country.
The cases were preceded by a petition before the Senate Electoral Tribunal to nullify her victory in the 2013 elections on similar grounds.
The electoral tribunal voted 5-4 dismissing the petition filed by Rizalito David.
The case is now under appeal before the Supreme Court.
A source disclosed to The Manila Times that the tribunal case was raffled off Thursday with Associate Justice Mario Victor Leonen designated as the ponente or the justice who will draft the majority ruling.
Escudero believes the Comelec en banc would affirm the ruling of the Second Division.
“If you add up the votes of the Comelec commissioners, and if the three commissioners from the Second Division will not change their stand, they only need one more vote to disqualify Senator Grace,” he told reporters in Filipino.
The Comelec has seven commissioners.
All three members of the Second Division — Commissioners Al Parreño, Arthur Lim and Sheriff Abas — voted to cancel Poe’s COC.
“Frankly, we’re not really hopeful that we’d get a favorable ruling from the Comelec en banc because it’s very easy to get just one more vote needed to disqualify Senator Grace,” according to Escudero.
A lawyer, he said this gives them no other choice but to bring the matter to the Supreme Court (SC).
Escudero sees no basis for Elamparo to ask for the removal of Poe’s name from the official ballot, noting that Comelec has no rules calling for such.
In fact, he said, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez already said prudence dictates that
Poe’s name be included in the ballot until the SC decides with finality.
Escudero added that there are two possible scenarios in case the Comelec en banc rules to disqualify Poe.
One, the Comelec will retain Poe’s name in the ballot while the SC is resolving the disqualification case.
Two, the SC will issue a temporary restraining order against the removal of the senator’s name from the ballot.
Escudero said removing Poe’s name would be unfair to the senator and may even render the decision of the High Court moot, in case it ruled not to disqualify her.
Palace denies conspiracy
Malacañang on Thursday cried foul over allegations that the administration-backed Liberal Party (LP) is behind the plot to take Poe out of the presidential race.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. was reacting to a claim made by Poe’s supporters that LP standard-bearer, Manuel Roxas 2nd, had a hand in the filing of disqualification cases against the senator.
“This matter has been raised previously and we maintain that the administration is not in any way involved,” Coloma said in a text message to reporters.
Poe earlier also hinted that Roxas and opposition standard-bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay are behind attempts to disqualify her.
A Times source said the naming of Justice Leonen as the ponente in Poe’s disqualification case is very crucial.
The source claimed Leonen and Poe knew each other and were photographed together during a meeting of the Philippine Women Judges Association (PWJA) in Tagaytay City.
The senator was the affair’s guest of honor.
Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, the president of the PWJA, was one of the three justice-members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal who voted to nullify Poe’s 2013 victory.
An SC insider claimed that Leonen was very vocal about his dislike for Roxas.
With JOMAR CANLAS and CATHERINE S. VALENTE