RADIO commentator Rizalito David should not expect much from the Senate Electoral Tribunal.
According to Sen. Cynthia Villar, she and other members of the tribunal who decided to favor Sen. Grace Poe in a disqualification case filed by David are unlikely to change their decision.
The electoral tribunal last week voted 5-4 dismissing David’s quo warranto petition that sought to nullify Poe’s victory in the 2013 elections.
He argued that being a foundling with no known biological parents, Poe could not be considered a natural-born citizen, a constitutional requirement for senators.
Poe was found abandoned in a church in Iloilo province in central Philippines shortly after she was born in 1967.
She was later adopted by the actor Fernando Poe Jr. or FPJ and actress Susan Roces.
Now 47, the younger Poe is running for President in next year’s elections and has led all pre-election surveys for President and Vice President since the second quarter of the year.
She is facing five other disqualification cases with the Commission on Elections, with the complainants questioning her claim in her certificate of candidacy for President that she is a natural-born Filipino.
Villar said it will be difficult for the five senator-members of the tribunal, who voted not to disqualify Poe, to change their position because all of them have studied carefully the issues raised in the petition and decided based on their respective principles.
Aside from her, Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th, Pia Cayetano, Loren Legarda and Vicente Sotto 3rd voted to dismiss the David petition.
Sotto, a reelectionist under Poe’s ticket, was the campaign spokesman for FPJ when he ran for President in the 2004 elections.
David, in an earlier interview, said he believes that Cayetano and Aquino will change their position on the case and side with the four other members of the tribunal who ruled in favor of the petition disqualifying Poe.
Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, chairman of the electoral tribunal, and SC Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and Arturo Brion and Sen. Nancy Binay, daughter of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) standard-bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay voted to disqualify Poe.
Villar said she was able to read the opinions of the justices and even asked help from some lawyers who also viewed the opinions valid, but in the end she decided to vote in Poe’s favor.
She added that her decision is a combination of her advocacy and some legal provisions including international conventions.
Villar particularly cited the The Hague Convention of 1930, which states that “a child whose parents are both unknown shall have the nationality of the country of birth.”
“Your advocacy would always form part of your decision whether you like it or not,” the senator said.
She noted that if the law intended the tribunal to decide on cases purely on a legal basis, it should have limited the composition of the tribunal to the justices of the Supreme Court.
“The mere fact that the law allowed politicians to be members of [the tribunal]means there will be some political decision. I believe that those who crafted the [tribunal]law also want balance,” Villar said.
David already filed his motion for reconsideration at the electoral tribunal on Monday and the tribunal is expected to decide on the appeal next month.
Villar said David may have a chance to get the ruling he wants from the High Court because as far as the electoral tribunal is concerned, a reversal of the tribunal’s earlier decision in the case is improbable.