NOTWITHSTANDING the Supreme Court’s injunction in its April 5, 2016 minute resolution that “no further pleadings or motions will be entertained” in the case of Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares, I have filed a second motion for reconsideration of the Court’s March 8, 2016 ruling, and the minute resolution, annulling the Commission on Elections’ resolutions that disqualified her as a candidate and cancelled her Certificate of Candidacy, and motu proprio declaring her as a QUALIFIED CANDIDATE (all caps) for President.
Together with my legal counsel Atty. Manuelito Luna, I filed my motion on Monday afternoon, as one of the four original petitioners against Mrs. Llamanzares. This is pursuant to Section 3, Rule 15 of the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court, which provides for reconsideration, “in the higher interest of justice, when the assailed decision is not only legally erroneous, but is likewise patently unjust and potentially capable of causing unwarranted and irremediable injury or damage to the parties.”
This scarcely begins to characterize the Court’s ruling. On April 6, after it was first reported that nine of the 15 Justices had maintained their positions in the March 8 ruling, and before the official texts became available online, I wrote that the Justices had “killed” the Constitution and the Supreme Court with their decision. For a while I worried that I had overstated my case at the cost of fairness, but the dissenting opinions of Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and Arturo Brion reassured me that I had not gone beyond the zeal of the Court’s most erudite and highly respected Members.
In her pathetically derisive and ill-tempered language, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno called them a “noisy part of the minority” trying to arrogate unto themselves “a place above the Court.” She seemed totally unaware that she and her majority colleagues have by themselves put the city sewer above the previously honorable Court.
Having long embraced the fact that Mrs. Llamanzares was born a foundling of no known parentage, and found inside the Jaro parish church in Iloilo City on Sept. 3, 1968; having immersed in the constitutional provisions on citizenship and qualifications for the Presidency, the relevant laws and jurisprudence; and having seen the resolute effort of powerful political and corporate personalities, including some magistrates of late, to make this former American citizen of no particular merit “the first American president outside the United States,” I would very much like to see, in slow motion if possible, how the Court intends to turn her into what she is not, and by what ungodly authority it dares to proclaim her a QUALIFIED CANDIDATE for President.
We have gone over this so many times before, but let us do it once more. Mrs. Llamanzares was born presumably in Jaro, Iloilo City where she was mercifully found by one Edgardo Militar inside a parish church on Sept. 3, 1968. Under the 1935 Constitution, which was in force when she was born, a child must have a Filipino father in order to be considered a Filipino from birth. But nobody knew her parents then, and nobody knows them now.
Adopted by the famous actors Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces in San Juan, Rizal on May 13, 1974, she subsequently obtained a Philippine passport, under circumstances not discussed in her biographical account. This enabled her to study in Boston, where she studied political science. There she fell in love with Teodoro Misael Daniel Vera Llamanzares, an American of Filipino descent, said to be a grandson of the late Misael Vera, the long-serving most powerful Bureau of Internal Revenue commissioner during the Marcos years. They got married in Manila on July 27, 1991, but flew back to the US two days later, and there established their domicile.
On Dec. 13, 2004, she came back to be at her adoptive father’s sickbed; he died on Dec. 14, 2004. On July 7, 2006, she sought to “reacquire” Philippine citizenship under Republic Act 9225, by executing a sworn statement where she claimed to be a former natural-born citizen, born of her adoptive mother, Susan Roces. No effort was obviously exerted to check the veracity of her claims, so her application was granted on July 18, 2006.
On Oct. 6, 2010, she was appointed chair of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board—-a position that requires a natural-born citizen status—-while she was still an American citizen. On Dec. 9, 2011, having earlier decided to renounce her US citizenship, she was issued a “certificate of loss of Nationality of the United States” by a US vice consul.
On Oct. 2, 2012, she filed a certificate of candidacy for the senatorial election on May 13, 2013, claiming to be natural-born Filipino and a resident of the country for six years and six months immediately preceding the election. She was elected senator on the basis of her false claim. On Oct. 15, 2015 she filed a COC for president, claiming to be a natural-born citizen and a resident of the country for 10 years and 11 months immediately preceding the May 9, 2016 elections.
Under the 1987 Constitution, no person may be elected President unless he is a “natural-born citizen,” meaning a citizen from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect his or her citizenship. She is not a natural-born citizen, and based on her own computation when she ran for the Senate, she will have resided in the country for nine years and six months by May 9, 2016. Whatever her virtues as the adopted daughter of a well-loved actor of happy memory, she is not qualified to run for President.
On Oct 18, 2015, Atty. Estella Elamparo filed a petition with the Comelec for the cancellation of her COC. On Oct. 19, I filed a petition for her disqualification for falsely representing herself as a natural-born citizen and as a resident of the country for the required ten years. On Oct. 20, Prof. Antonio Contreras filed a petition for cancellation of her COC. On Nov. 9, Dean Amado Valdez likewise filed a petition to cancel her COC.
Elamparo’s petition was raffled to the Comelec Second Division, while the Tatad, Contreras and Valdez petitions were raffled to the First. After due hearings, the Second Division cancelled Mrs. Llamanzares’s COC, and the First Division disqualified her as a candidate for not being natural-born and lacking the residency requirement and cancelled her COC. The rulings were appealed to the Comelec en banc, which affirmed the decisions of the two Divisions. She then asked the Supreme Court to temporarily restrain the implementation of the rulings, while asking the Court to review the same on certiorari. The Temporary Restraining Order was granted.
After extensive oral arguments, the Court en banc, by a vote of 9 to 6, decided to annul the Comelec resolutions, for grave abuse of discretion—-simply for ruling on the disqualification issues. The ponencia was written by Justice Jose Perez. To the majority, these issues should be reserved for the Presidential Electoral Tribunal after the elections, should she get elected. This effectively nullified Comelec’s authority as “the sole judge of all pre-proclamation cases,” and Sec. 69 of the Omnibus Election Code, which empowers the Comelec to “motu proprio cancel the COC of nuisance candidates.”
It also contradicted the Court’s long-standing record of upholding the Comelec’s jurisdiction in several high-profile cases, with Justice Perez writing the ponencia himself. And Comelec’s recent disqualification of 130 or so “nuisance presidential candidates” without a peep from the Court.
The dispositive portion in Perez’s ponencia not only annulled the Comelec rulings; it also motu proprio declared Mrs. Llamanzares as a QUALIFIED CANDIDATE for President, without justifying its authority to say so. While arguing that the PET, which is composed of the entire Supreme Court, should rule on her qualifications after the election should she get elected, the majority preempted this very process by declaring before the election that she is a QUALIFIED CANDIDATE. Can contradiction be more self-evident?
In Baguio, Perez could have explained the confusion and contradiction caused by his ponencia. But apparently affected by the harsh response to his authorship, he simply recommended to the Court en banc the outright dismissal of the motions for reconsideration through a Minute Resolution, as Justice Brion says in his Dissent. Having the “force of numbers” on their side, the majority simply concurred, thus the public remains in the dark on the issues involved.
In the strongest language I have read from a Member of the Court speaking to his colleagues on an important case, Brion faulted the Majority for committing the same GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION which they accuse the Comelec of having committed; for violating the RULE OF LAW, thereby allowing for the first time since 1946 someone who is not a natural-born citizen to run for President; and for confusing the authority of the Court and that of the Comelec.
Among those with some exposure to politics, no confusion exists as to the jurisdiction of the Comelec with that of the Supreme Court regarding the qualification of candidates. Who are qualified to seek the presidency is clearly the jurisdiction of the Comelec, but who are qualified to sit as President is the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. This appears to be so clear to the simple folk, why can’t it be as clear to the learned Justices? Were they to insist that their false reading is right, the Majority might just as well allow all the 130 or so nuisance presidential candidates to run, and just let the PET rule on their qualifications afterward. This is how absurd the situation brought about by the Majority ruling is. For this reason, we refuse to be silenced and immobilized by the injunction of the Chief Justice.