Lawyers for independent presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe will seek dismissal of an election-offense complaint filed by radioman Rizalito David against the senator with the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Poe’s lawyers will cite a recent decision of the Senate Electoral Tribunal as basis to move for the dismissal of David’s complaint.
George Garcia, Poe’s counsel, on Friday said a motion to dismiss will be included in the manifestation they will file on Tuesday, December 1, officially informing the Comelec’s law department of the ruling of the electoral tribunal, which threw out David’s quo warranto petition, that sought the nullification of the senator’s proclamation as winner in the 2013 senatorial elections.
David also recently filed an appeal and asked the nine-member electoral tribunal to reconsider its ruling. The tribunal on November 17 voted 5-4 and ruled that although she is a foundling, Poe enjoyed the presumption that she was born of Filipino parents.
All three justice-members of the tribunal gave dissenting votes and favored David’s arguments.
The election-offense complaint filed by David with the Comelec claimed that Poe committed a “material misrepresentation” when she filed her certificate of candidacy (COC) for the 2013 senatorial elections.
He said that aside from misdeclaring the number of years of her residency in the Philippines, Poe also filed her COC even if she is not a natural-born Filipino citizen.
Poe’s action, according to David, violated Section 74 of the Omnibus Election Code, which considers the COC a sworn statement by the person filing it to announce his or her candidacy for a particular office.
“We strongly believe that the [Senate Electoral Tribunal] win means there is no misrepresentation in the COC she filed when she ran for the Senate in 2013,” Garcia said in a statement.
Senator Francis Escudero, Poe’s running mate, in a separate interview said he believes that Comelec would give weight to the tribunal’s ruling in deciding on the election-offense case filed by David.
He noted that the Comelec earlier agreed to suspend proceedings on the case pending the decision of the electoral tribunal is an indication that the tribunal’s ruling is important.
Poe, on November 13, filed her counter-affidavit on the Comelec case including a request to suspend the proceedings because the Senate Electoral Tribunal case involves a prejudicial question.
A prejudicial question is one that must be decided before any criminal prosecution may be instituted or before it may proceed because a decision on that point is vital to the eventual judgment in the case.
The rationale behind the principle of prejudicial question is to avoid two conflicting decisions, which warrant the suspension of the proceedings before the commission,
Garcia said they will file their memorandum for the three other disqualification cases filed by former senator Francisco Tatad, political science professor Antonio Contreras and former University of the East College of Law Dean Amado Valdez on December 3.