Justices will sit down behind closed doors today to decide on the fate of Senator Grace Poe, whose presidential run had been questioned based on her citizenship and Philippine residency.
From the looks of it, a divided court will rule on Poe’s case.
As of late yesterday, the “voting” was an even 3-3, with three senior justices voting against Poe and three others, including Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, favoring the senator.
The count was based on the drafts of the magistrates’ opinions that were circulated among members of the High Court.
An unimpeachable source said that the opinions and “Reflections” circulated by the justices were so lengthy.
Today is the deadline for the magistrates to submit their own concurring or dissenting opinions to the draft decision written by Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, the court-appointed ponencia of the case.
The source told The Manila Times that Sereno has circulated her “Reflections,” so did five other justices who revealed their positions on Monday.
Sereno’s 117-page “Reflections” mirrored the position she showed during the oral arguments, which was to favor Poe.
The source said Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Arturo Brion also circulated drafts of their own opinions, as well as Associate Justices Marvic Leonen and Jose Perez.
Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo has revealed his stand in his ponencia, which is to disqualify Poe.
The source said Carpio and Brion also voted to disqualify Poe, both on the citizenship and residency issues.
Carpio is the chairman of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) that also tackled the complaint that seeks to disqualify Poe as a senator. Brion is a member of the SET.
In the SET case, the two justices also voted to disqualify Poe, but they were outnumbered by the other members of the tribunal.
The SET ruled in favor of Poe by a vote of 5-4.
The source said that Brion’s dissenting opinion was 140 pages long.
On the other hand, Leonen and Perez opposed the disqualification of Poe in their separate dissenting opinions. The two justices believe that the senator should be allowed to remain in the presidential race because she has proven that she is a natural-born Filipino and had stayed for more than 10 years in the Philippines.
Leonen’s arguments were contained in his 107-page dissenting opinion.
Del Castillo’s draft decision disqualified Poe on the basis of her residency but sources at the High Court said that the question on her citizenship can be more damaging because it can also oust her as a senator of the republic.
A magistrate told the Times tat if Poe will be disqualified based on the issue of citizenship, it will follow that she will also be disqualified as a member of the Senate.
“The citizenship case is more dangerous than the residency issue in the case of Grace Poe. Once she is disqualified in the citizenship case, it will set a precedent that could oust her as
a senator,” the justice said.
Another magistrate said that legally speaking, the case of Poe is easy to decide because the facts of the case are “very evident.”
“The only thing that makes it hard to rule is that she is running for the presidency and leading in the surveys,” the magistrate explained.
“Naaawa yung ibang justices pag na disqualify si Grace Poe kapag na-rule and citizenship case,” he added.