High Court seen poised to confirm TRO vs Comelec
The Supreme Court (SC) en banc is inclined to include the name of Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares in the ballot as presidential candidate in the May 2016 elections, and may soon confirm the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued earlier against the move to disqualify her, highly placed sources have said.
An overwhelming majority of the justices will confirm the TRO issued by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on December 28 against the Comelec’s move to delist Poe from the ballot because of pending questions about her citizenship and residency, the High Court sources told The Manila Times on condition of anonymity.
“The case is not yet [about]the merit [of the case]itself, it is only a TRO that the en banc will confirm, [because]without the TRO, that will already make the case moot and academic,” one of the SC sources said.
A second source at the High Court said there are at least eight justices who are inclined to confirm the TRO in Poe’s favor.
The merits of the case will remain pending. Some of the justices who at this point have not weighed the merits of her disqualification case may still give her a chance to remain among the presidential candidates given that the TRO only covers the delisting of her name from the ballot.
The TRO is expected to be confirmed on Tuesday, when the SC resumes its en banc session and the first session for 2016.
Among the noted justices who are seen likely to vote in favor of the TRO are Sereno, along with Associate Justice Marvic Leonen and Mariano del Castillo—who are both ponentes of the two disqualification cases filed against Poe by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Both Leonen and del Castillo recommended the TRO, which was later issued by Sereno during the Christmas break.
Other justices appointed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and who are expected to vote in favor of Poe are Jose Portugal Perez, Jose Catral Mendoza, Martin Villarama Jr. and Presbitero Velasco Jr.
The justices appointed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd who are inclined to vote for the confirmation of the TRO are Bienvenido Reyes and Francis Jardeleza. Sereno and Leonen were also Aquino appointees.
In the meantime, senior justices of the SC who were asked by Poe to stay out of her disqualification cases will stand their ground not to inhibit themselves from the cases now with the High Court, particularly those emanating from the Comelec. Senior SC Justices Antonio Carpio, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and Arturo Brion are expected to stand firm in participating in the deliberations over the cases at the High Court.
In particular, the source said the three justices will participate, deliberate and vote in the cases emanating from the Comelec, disqualifying Poe for her American citizenship and her lack of the required length of Philippine residency.
The two Comelec cases that have reached the SC are: GR No. 221697, entitled ‘Poe vs Comelec and Estrella Elamparo’ and GR No. 221698-700 ‘Poe vs Comelec, Francisco Tatad, Antonio Contreras and Amado Valdez.’ These cases seek to disqualify Poe as a presidential candidate for the May 2016 elections because of her American citizenship and lack of residency.
The only case from which Carpio, de Castro and Brion have inhibited themselves was the case of Rizalito David vs Poe and the Senate Electoral Tribunal, since the three magistrates participated and ruled for the ouster of Poe as a sitting senator on account of her American citizenship. In this case, the senator was the respondent since she won the case before the electoral tribunal with a vote of 5 against 4.