Comelec law department recommends suspension of disqualification cases
The Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) law department has recommended the suspension of legal proceedings in disqualification cases filed against Sen. Grace Poe until after the resolution of her pending case before the Senate Electoral Tribunal.
Appearing before the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms on Wednesday, Comelec Commissioner Arthur Lim said the poll body’s commissioners were told that the resolution of a quo warranto petition of radio commentator Rizalito David with the electoral tribunal would have an effect on the disqualification cases filed against the senator.
“The en banc has received the report and recommendation of the law department and we are considering the issue. The law department has recommended the suspension of the proceedings before the commission on the alleged ground that the case before the [Senate Electoral Tribunal] contains a prejudicial question determinative of the outcome of the election offense case pending before the commission, and subsequently filed before it,” Lim added.
Meanwhile, the Comelec has summoned Poe for a hearing on November 3 so that she could respond to the charges against her.
“The decision of the en banc was to study the issue of prejudicial question [and]subject it to a very thorough, judicious approach and study. But for the time being… the information I can give the committee is that the rules of the commission on preliminary investigation must be complied with,” Lim said.
He clarified, “It is not to prejudge the case one way or another. Neither is it to rule whether the prejudicial question exists or does not exist. But certainly the rules mandate that if there is a verified complaint for an election offense, the investigative process has to be set into motion. This is the reason why the commission, through the law department, has now sent a subpoena to the respondent to file a counter-affidavit. The hearing has been set for November 3,” Lim said.
Poe is facing complaints before the Comelec filed by David, political science professor Antonio Contreras, lawyer Estrella Elamparo and former senator Francisco Tatad that all assailed the senator’s citizenship and residency.
During the House committee hearing, officials of the poll body said the Comelec’s decision on the cases “will be issued in due time consistent with due process and judicious consideration of all the [pieces of]evidence.”
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Lim said the poll body will issue a decision on Poe’s disqualification cases “within November … sa palagay ko [I think] or as soon as possible.”
In a 163-page memorandum filed earlier this month before the electoral tribunal, Poe’s camp asked it to dismiss the petition, saying David was unable to establish that she is disqualified.
It also asked that David be cited in direct contempt “for willful and deliberate forum-shopping” and to fine him P2,000 and imprison him for 10 days pursuant to the Rules of Court.
Further, Poe’s camp also asked the Senate Electoral Tribunal to cite him in indirect contempt “for failing to inform this honorable tribunal of the filing and pendency of his affidavit-complaint with the Comelec law department” and to fine him P30,000 and imprison him for six months pursuant to the Rules of Court.
It asked too the tribunal to “[i]mpose on petitioner double or treble costs, pursuant to Rule 85 of the [tribunal][r]ules, for filing a frivolous petition for quo warranto against respondent.”
David–who also filed his certificate of candidacy for President–filed the petition for quo warranto (by what warrant) last August before the electoral tribunal seeking Poe’s removal from office as he assailed her citizenship.
“Since respondent has no known parentage–and following the predominating principle of jus sanguinis–she cannot be considered a Philippine natural, much less natural-born,” he said in a 51-page memorandum he submitted to the tribunal early this month.
Under the jus sanguinis (right of blood) principle, a child’s citizenship is determined by the citizenship of the parents regardless of the place of birth.