Senate President Franklin Drilon wants the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) to resolve questions on the eligibility of Sen. Grace Poe for higher office before the filing of certificates of candidacy (COC) starts next month, to put an end to the issue about her citizenship.
Drilon on Sunday said the petition raises serious doubts over Poe’s being a natural-born Filipino and on the validity of her candidacy in the 2016 elections.
“I strongly urge the Senate Electoral Tribunal to expedite its hearings and immediately come out with a decision on the quo warranto petition against 2016 presidential aspirant Senator Poe,” the Senate chief said.
Poe had officially declared her intention to run for President next year with Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero as her running mate.
Drilon said the electoral tribunal’s decision on a disqualification complaint filed by Rizalito David against Poe will guide voters in choosing the next leader.
“An immediate resolution of this case will benefit everyone, but it will help the public the most, especially as they decide who to vote for next year. If remained unanswered, these questions on Poe’s citizenship would only confuse the voters,” the senator, the vice chairman of the Liberal Party (LP), said.
An early resolution of the case will also help the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in its preparations for next year’s polls especially in the printing of official ballots scheduled for January of next year.
Under the election schedule released by the Comelec, the filing of COCs will be from October 12 to 16, 2015.
Aside from questioning Poe’s citizenship, David claimed that the senator also failed to meet the residency requirement set by the Constitution when she ran for the Senate in 2013.
The electoral tribunal, however, dismissed the residency issue so that the tribunal can focus on the question of Poe’s citizenship.
But Poe maintained that her citizenship can no longer be questioned as well because she did not change her citizenship after she was proclaimed senator.
“While the citizenship of a senator may be questioned at any time, such rule only applies if said senator changed her citizenship after being proclaimed as a senator, or if said senator concealed her foreign citizenship when she filed her certificate of candidacy (COC),” the senator said in her 107-page reply to the electoral tribunal’s petition.The tribunal is composed of Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio as chairman with Associate Justice Arturo Brion and Senators Loren Legarda, Paolo Benigno Aquino, Pia Cayetano, Cynthia Villar, Vicente Sotto 3rd and Nancy Binay as members.
House Deputy Minority Leader Arnel Ty of the LPG Marketers’ Association (LPG-MA) party-list said Poe should not seek the country’s highest post because she will be unbeatable if she runs for Vice President.
“Senator Poe is fairly young at 47. She can always run for President in 2022, when she will be 53 years old. Meantime, she should seek the vice presidency to obtain more experience,” Ty added.
“As a presidential hopeful, in a four- or five-way fight, Senator Poe will be up against tough and tested rivals who will surely give her a run for her money,” he explained in a statement.
“In fact, the 2016 battle lines in many provinces have been drawn this early, mainly between resigned Interior Secretary [Manuel Roxas 2nd] and Vice President Jejomar Binay,” Ty said.
He added that Poe can also finish her six-year-term as senator, seek reelection in 2019 and gun for the presidency in 2022.
“Either way, by 2022, she will have gained considerable know-how, and she will have also demonstrated to everybody that she is here to serve and stay permanently,” Ty said.
He added that although Poe renounced her US citizenship, her husband remains an American citizen and their children are natural-born US citizens.
With Reina Tolentino