IF Senator Grace Poe wins in May but is disqualified by the Supreme Court (SC), the winning vice presidential candidate will be declared president, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Wednesday.
Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista said that in the event that Poe’s disqualification comes after the elections, the high Court’s ruling will prevail thus, she will not be able to assume office despite her poll victory.
“The (winning) vice presidential candidate takes over,” Bautista told The Manila Times.
Former Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes agreed with Bautista, explaining that if the SC decision comes out after Poe has won or assumed the presidency on June 30, 2016, the vice president will take over as president.
But Brillantes pointed out that if Poe wins and the disqualification order comes out before noon on June 30, the presidential candidate who garnered the second most number of votes will be declared president.
Election lawyer Manuelito Luna, said the vice president elect cannot take over as president if Poe is disqualified.
“She (Poe) technically is not a candidate. Her candidacy is void and all her votes are stray votes. Because of that it’s not the vice president that takes over but the second placer (in the presidential race),” Luna told The Times.
“The second placer is actually the first placer because Poe’s candidacy is void,” Luna stressed.
Also, Bautista said Poe cannot be substituted if she is disqualified.
He explained that the rule on substitution is clearly defined under the Omnibus Election Code (OEC), and Poe’s case does not fall under the category allowed by law.
“She is an independent, she has no political party. Independent candidates cannot be substituted,” Bautista pointed out.
Substitution is allowed under Article IX, Section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code. It states: “If after the last day for the filing of certificates of candidacy, an official candidate of a registered or accredited political party dies, withdraws or is disqualified for any cause, only a person belong to, and certified by, the same political party may file a certificate of candidacy to replace the candidate who die, withdrew or was disqualified.”
Poe was recently adopted by the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) as its presidential candidate, but Comelec spokesman Director James Jimenez said that this does not mean that she is already a member of the party.
The Comelec en banc disqualified Poe in December last year. The commission said Poe is not qualified to join the presidential race because she is not a natural-born Filipino citizen and she failed to meet the minimum 10-year residency requirement.
The Manila Times has reported that a draft decision written by SC Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo disqualified Poe on the grounds that she did not meet the residency requirement for presidential candidates.