Sen. Grace Poe will have to wait until early next year for a final ruling on one of the disqualification cases filed against her.
This came about after the Supreme Court (SC) in a special en banc session on Wednesday decided to schedule oral arguments on a petition seeking to reverse a ruling of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) upholding her proclamation as one of the winners in the 2013 senatorial elections.
A source of The Manila Times in the SC earlier said Justice Mario Victor Leonen, the designated case ponente, wanted to hold oral arguments on the petition filed by radio commentator Rizalito David.
David had filed a quo warranto petition with the electoral tribunal and sought to unseat Poe, arguing that she failed to meet the constitutional requirements for the position of senator, particularly on citizenship and residency.
He argued that for being a foundling with no known biological Filipino parents, the senator could not lay claim to being a natural-born citizen.
David originally questioned Poe’s residency period, which he said fails to meet the 10 years required by the Constitution.
The Senate Electoral Tribunal focused on the citizenship question after the petitioner was persuaded during pre-trial to withdraw the residency issue.
Members of the electoral tribunal then voted 5-4 dismissing David’s petition and declared that the 47-year-old Poe is a natural-born citizen.
The case went to the Supreme Court after the electoral tribunal affirmed its ruling on appeal.
SC spokesman Theodore Te said the oral arguments were set for January 19, 2016. The Manila Times earlier reported that the arguments were set for January 12.
The nine-member tribunal as well as Poe were given 15 days to comment on David’s petition.
The three SC justices who are members of the electoral tribunal are expected to inhibit from the case. Justices Antonio Carpio, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and Arturo Brion voted to uphold David’s petition.
In his petition for certiorari, the radio commentator assailed the electoral tribunal’s ruling declaring Poe natural-born “despite the absence of proof of blood ties to a Filipino father or mother.”
David stated that majority of the tribunal members committed grave abuse of discretion in declaring the senator a natural-born Filipino citizen.
The SC was asked to reverse and declare void the electoral tribunal’s majority decision and immediately issue a temporary restraining order or injunction, which would immediately disqualify Poe from running for President in next year’s elections.
Poe’s lawyer George Garcia also on Wednesday asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to take a second look at voluminous documents they have presented to prove that she has complied with the citizenship and residency requirements for presidential candidates.
In a 90-page motion for reconsideration, Garcia asked the Comelec en banc to reverse a resolution of the First Division ordering the cancelation of Poe’s certificate of candidacy (COC) for President over allegedly false statements on her nationality and period of residence in the Philippines.
He insisted that Poe is a natural-born Filipino citizen and has complied with the 10-year residency requirement in the Constitution, having been an actual resident of the Philippines since May 24, 2005.