SET should not rush to judgment on Poe disqualification case

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WHILE the majority of us in Metro Manila are seeing their work and pay, their studies, and their mobility suspended or curtailed for the whole week on account of the APEC leaders’ meeting, the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) will posture today as a conscientious body by meeting at the Manila Polo Club and hammering out in haste a decision on the disqualification case of Sen. Grace Poe.

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No earth-shaking development – not the meeting of 21 heads of state in our capital, not the fresh eruption of global terrorism in Paris, and no catastrophe – will deter these dedicated public servants from doing their duty, because that is how serious they are about their jobs.

Sound reasons for delay

Several members of the tribunal have urged the body to defer its decision for a week or so, but the meeting today will reportedly push through on the insistence of SET chairman, SC Justice Antonio Carpio.

We thought the reasons for deferment were sound because some senator members averred that they needed more time to study thoroughly the complexities of the case and the issues, and that their staffs need sufficient time to research and develop for them a cogent position on the case.

By contrast, we think the reason for rushing a vote today is unbelievably inane and trivial. The SET spoksperson said the tribunal must meet and decide today because Associate Justice Antonio Carpio is insisting on it. He is leaving for the Netherlands tomorrow, and he will not be back in Manila until December.

What is so sacred and important about Justice Carpio’s travel schedule that the tribunal must rush its judgment on senator Poe’s case, and not afford its members sufficient time to study the case? Why should he not be the one to adjust instead of the other members. If the good justice’s business in the Natherlands is an important matter of state (involving presumably the Philippines’ arbitration case at the Hague), so are the tribunal’s deliberations on Senator Poe’s predicament, because a credible SET decision will bear weight in the Commission on Elections’ own deliberations on the various disqualification cases filed against Senator Poe’s candidacy for president in the 2016 elections.

From what we know of the state of preparedness of the senator members of SET, we are not persuaded that during the weekend they suddenly became more enlightened and ready to submit a judicious verdict on the case today.

A matter of law, not politics

From the beginning of this controversial case, we have always maintained that the issue of Senator Poe’s qualification to sit in the Senate is a matter of law, not of politics.

It is a matter of law because our Constitution explicitly and clearly defines the qualifications for election and membership in the Senate, in section 3, article VI. Whether those qualifications and conditions are met must be established by facts and documents, not by arguments of presumption or publicity.

The issue is, secondly, not a matter of politics because the number of votes Senator Poe received in the 2013 elections is irrelevant in this disqualification case. They do not help in proving that she, in fact, is qualified to sit in the Senate.

Her qualification or disqualification is not a matter of politics, because her political affiliation and the political affiliation of the SET senator members have no bearing whatever on Senator Poe’s being a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.

Each of the senator members, no less than the judiciary members, of the Senate Electoral Tribunal owes our people their wise and well-considered judgment on this case, based on the merits of Rizalito David’s petition for disqualification, and Ms. Poe’s defense.

Extraneous considerations, like the lobbying of certain individuals or groups or the offer of inducements, would be foul.

At an earlier meeting of the tribunal, we thought Justice Carpio deftly underlined the importance of the issues in this case, in a way that the public and the media could understand.

Now, by forcing the tribunal to rush to judgment, we fear that he has muddled the issues.
He could unwittingly bring about a situation where tribunal members will decide on the case along political lines, instead of on the legal merits.

They will approach the case with the 2016 elections in mind, and not with the wisdom and legal correctness of the Senate in mind.

The point we want to underscore is this. This case concerns the Philippine Senate and the 2013 elections, and not the forthcoming 2016 elections. This perspective must be kept in mind.

By giving each tribunal member time for deliberation and study, he or she will have time to form a well-considered judgment of the issues and can vote accordingly. Their statements explaining their votes will withstand public and media scrutiny, because it will be based on sound arguments on the facts and the law.

Based on these considerations, we submit that it is better for Justice Carpio to be inconvenienced in his travels, than for the nation to be saddled with a less than enlightened or fair decision on Senator Poe’s disqualification case.

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24 Comments

  1. Why Mr. Carpio is in hurry to decide for Grace Poe? what he is doing in Netheraland?? is that official business or he just want to meet Mr. Joma Sison?? What is his business in Netherlands.. I read some news international magazine that some of the Filipino fugitive who is wanted from the Philippine government is living in Netherlands..is this true???

  2. Let the SET verdict be handed down today. Anyway, whatever the verdict would be, it will be the SC to finally rule on it. I see no logic in postponing the SET scheduled meeting today. The editorial writer is truly naive, or maybe has some vested interest behind. RLC

  3. The taste of the pudding is in the eating. So be it. Let’s see if the decision will stand in the public scrutiny.

    • This is an amazing country…If we are to do as the writer suggest and scrutinize…Well what do we have ?
      We have people who are being investigated for criminal behavior. running for political office
      .We have officials in office –with past criminal convictions
      We have families guilty of plunder in office —
      -Yet we wont let Grace Poe stand ..
      .Talk about a comedy of errors.
      What sort of “keystone cops ” logic is this?
      Dr David M Meyer

  4. Just what is the thought here in delaying the passing of judgment in order to obtain a resolution? Justice had long been delayed, because this issue was raised long before any other events took place, and once it has gathered traction for the public to become aware that they were fooled yet again after the true nature of Grace Llamanzares’ citizenship being of dubious nature.

    Here we have are two senators proclaiming their unreadiness to render a verdict, because of some spurious claim of being ill-prepared from not having enough time to do a thorough research or more time to study due to complexities involved, is totally unreasonable cognizant to their sworn oath to exercise their duties in service of the republic, if such is their excuse, then they have no business being in the SET nor to be in the senate.

    The plea being presented here in this editorial article, is not a viable option.

  5. This editorial writer is naïve. Do you really believe the senators will cast their votes according to what is legal and not according to political lines? The impeachment of CJ Renato Corona is too early to be forgotten. The senators who want to delay the decision are just buying time for Ms. Grace Llamanzares. We all knew the latter would want her name to be included in the official ballot even pending several suits against her. And her supporters in the senate are just willing to accommodate her. I do not believe each senator have not yet decided on her/his vote. Instead of casting aspersions on the credibility of Senior Associates Justice Carpio’s credibility, this editorial writer should just allow the SET to do its work. The sooner, the better for the nation.

    • Agree with you Ric. Nasanay na kasi na karamihan ng mga kababayan natin eh nasanay na sa ‘mamaya na habit’. Dapat tapusin na agad at wag itulad sa mga krimen na inaabot ng isang dekada o higit pa bago madesisyunan. Grace Poe’s renouncement of her Filipino citizenship for whatever reason is a MORTAL SIN. Imagine this: ISINUKA na niya pagka-Filipino niya tapos KAKAININ niya pa ulit. Aso lang ang kumakain ng isinuka niya. Minsan nga hindi pa din, hehehe

    • i agree with you ric brazil that the pro llamanzares senators specifically sotto are asking for deferment of decision. sa palagay ko dribble ito at para makasigurado na mailalagay sa balota ang pangalan ni llamanzares. i do not know what the writer has in mind pero with the quality of senators we have, the voting will just be like the corona impeachment. remember that sotto and cayetano were judges during the infamous corona impeachment where DAP were offered as incentives

    • Mark San Pablo on

      I agree with Ric Brazil. Instead of enlightening the readers, the editorial further confuses the issues in the case. For one thing, nobody is forcing the issue, as the editorial writer is venturing; it is the SET members themselves, notably Sen. Tito Sotto, who set the timetable for the tribunal to render its decision. For another, what would the reason be for delaying the decision? The senator-members are mature enough to appreciate the evidence presented to them. The longer the SET decides, the farther it gets from 2013 and the nearer it is to 2016, where the disqualification issues will be joined by other political, and thus partisan, issues as the campaign period nears. By questioning the motivations of Senior SC Justice Carpio for reminding the SET members to resolve the case AS SCHEDULED, the editorial writer leaves himself/herself open to suspicion about his/her own motives. Let the SET decide now!

  6. pati sa decision making . . . . do we have to practice the “MANANA HABIT” i can see grace poe grinning from ear to ear in awarding her ample time to condition the people’s mindset

  7. The petition of R. David against Grace Poe was filed several months ago. Is this NOT enough time for the members to think, research and decide this case?

    The longer this case is not settled is not good for the people who will vote this election.

    I am in favor of the SET getting this resolved ASAP.

  8. If the Poe issue is legal, not political, how come tbe SET includes non-lawyer senators as members? Why not make the majority of SET members, lawyers, or justices, or former judges, or former justices?

  9. There is no point in delaying the decision. I do not agree that if a decision is made tomorrow that it will be a rush to judgment.The members of SET have had ample time to study and review the documents and representations of the opposing parties.

    In an interview, Senator Sotto made known his request for a one-week delay because supposedly he and another member-senator (Senator Villar) had not even been provided with the documents that they need to review, and they had been busy with something else. Well, based on the pronouncements these two senators have made publicly concerning Mrs. Grace Poe Llamanzares, it is so obvious that both will support her, and a delay of one week is unnecessary and unwarranted. They do not have to undertake any review at all! And if these two were and are really interested in fulfilling their SET duties and responsibilities, why did they not ask for the documents earlier? Couldn’t their staff have reviewed the documents on their behalf? I suspect the request is really just part of a delaying tactic by the Llamanzares’ camp.

    Bring on the decision! No matter who wins or loses, this issue will end up in the lap of the Supreme Court justices. Time is of the essence. The sooner the Supreme Court is handed this case, the better it is for the Filipino electorate.

    • Yes indeed ! Sen Sotto is terribly busy almost everyday sitting and clowning and spewing inanities in the Eat Bulaga TV show…tsk tsk a Senator of the Republic at that ! Maybe he is burning the midnight oil preparing his TV show script each day. Oo nga naman !

    • Villar and Sotto are both on the Napoles list giving their pork barrel millions to Napoles in exchange for kickbacks. Everyone should of known why two of the biggest pork barrel thieves were appointed to the committee, to protect Aquino’s other horse (Poe) in the race.

    • Si Sotto aka Pepsi? Tsk,tsk,tsk. Hindi naman abugado ito at dapat nuon pa sila umiyak na wala pa silang natatanggap na information sheet man lng. Pro-Grace kasi at comedian-singer. Me relevance ba alam niyang propesyon sa BATAS??? Nanalo lng ito kc araw-araw nasa TV. Hehehe. Akala kasi ng mga bumoto sa kanya eh inilipat na sa channel Senate ung Eat Bulaga.. isumbong kita sa mga “LOLA”.

  10. Why delay the inevitable? To give Poe and her cohorts time to convince their peer senators?The facts are all there, the constitution provides all the answers why delay. The Comelec will not come to a decision until the Set does, so this will mean another delay. Let’s bring this to closure and stop the dilator tactics of the Poe lawyer. Let’s move on.

  11. I only wish that the 9 members of SET will base their decisions by Law and not politics. Hopefully they will be fair in this matter. Senator Poe has long been accepted as a NBF by the filipino people. why should they change their view of her now?

    • I agree with your first statement…that decisions must be based on law. But your second statement is inconsistent with this…that her popularity with the Filipinos, who are not aware of the details of law, be the basis of the decision.

  12. Drag the case out for years like usual. This SET committee has already had months to research and decide. Their job was to research and rule on it, have they been doing other things like going to costume parties or campaigning ?

  13. I am in favor of SET handing down its decision today so as to give either Petitioner or Respondent Poe to appeal to SC in case of wether judgment is favorable or not, and the SC to resolve the legal issues ASAP long before election in May 2016. Further, SC can deal on the issue squarely on its legal aspect!
    The SET, after all have long been aware of the legal issues involved. …whether Poe as a foundling , was natural-born? If so, was she restored to it ( natural born ) when she reacquired her Philippine dual citizenship, after she was naturalized as American citizen and renounced same.