THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) wants the Supreme Court (SC) to resolve the disqualification cases against Sen. Grace Poe to avoid the scenario of a disqualified candidate winning the elections.
On Tuesday, the Comelec filed before the High Court a very urgent motion to set oral arguments at an earlier date to expedite the proceedings and ensure that the poll body will be able to stick to its election timeline.
On the same day, the commission also filed a motion asking the tribunal for a five-day extension with which to file its answer to Poe’s petition seeking the reversal of the poll body’s decision disqualifying her from the presidential race in view of the decision of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) not to represent the Comelec.
“May 9, 2016 is an immovable date. We want to make sure that all our preparations are in accordance with our schedule because if you push and push it further, chances are it would create problems down the road. So we want to stick to our timeline as much as possible and we feel that there is enough time to have oral argument[s]at an earlier date,” Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said.
Bautista explained that even the counsel of Poe, George Garcia, wanted the case to be resolved soonest.
He asked the SC to set oral arguments on January 14 instead of January 19, 2016.
“We all know that if a candidate is disqualified by the Supreme Court, your votes would be considered stray votes. But the question is if we would be able to know the result of the votes. Hypothetically, what if the votes [of the disqualified candidate]is higher than [those of]the qualified [candidates]? So that’s the potential that we should think about,” Bautista said.
“We have also to consult the supplier Smartmatic [Corp]. What happens if ever the name is on the ballot but disqualified before the elections? What will happen? Is it possible not to count your votes? And that’s what we’re still looking at and in order to avoid any complexities, it would be better that those disqualified should be removed from the ballot,” he added.
The Comelec is set to complete ballot faces on January 20 and the commission has to create 1,953 ballots that will be posted on the Comelec website to provide all candidates an opportunity to check and verify if their names are correctly indicated on the ballots and if their names are placed in correct voting jurisdictions.
Bautista said if the ballot faces will not be completed on time, it may compromise the schedule for printing of the official ballots.
The SC will hear oral arguments on two cases–one filed against Poe by Estrella Elamparo and the other by former senator Francisco Tatad, Antonio Conteras and Amado Valdez.
The Comelec was supposed to be represented by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in the oral arguments but the latter withdrew because of a clash in opinions.
The OSG said Poe has complied with the constitutional requirements of the presidency.
Bautista said they respect the OSG decision not to represent the Comelec.
“We are not blaming the OSG, particularly because their opinion is contrary to the position of the majority of the Comelec en banc. All seven members of the commission believe that Sen. Grace Poe has not been able to show her lineage to Filipino parents,” he added.