Ex-senator Tatad to SC: Lift TRO on Poe’s disqualification

Ex-senator Tatad to SC: Lift TRO on Poe’s disqualification
Ex-senator Francisco Tatad says Senator Grace Poe did not provide 'convincing evidence' that the Comelec erred in ordering the cancellation of her candidacy

MANILA, Philippines – Former Senator Francisco Tatad on Monday, January 4, asked the Supreme Court (SC) to lift the temporary restraining order (TRO) it issued in December on the ruling of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) cancelling the candidacy of presidential aspirant Grace Poe.

In a 64-page comment filed through his lawyer Manuelito Luna, Tatad asked the SC to dissolve the TRO it issued last December 28.

The SC had granted Poe’s petitions seeking to stop the Comelec from canceling her certificate of candidacy for president due to the disqualification complaints against her.

The senator’s camp earlier accused the poll body of grave abuse of discretion after two Comelec divisions ruled to cancel her COC. The decisions were upheld by the Comelec en banc, or the commission sitting as a whole, with a 5-2 vote on the 1st division case, and a 5-1 vote on the 2nd division case

The disqualification case with the 1st division was filed by Tatad and two university professors, while the 2nd division case was filed by lawyer Estrella Elamparo.

In the same comment, Tatad also asked the High Tribunal to deny Poe’s plea to consolidate the disqualification cases against her.

He also opposed Poe’s request for the inhibition of 3 SC associate justices who voted against Poe in the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET). 

TRO not warranted

The former senator said the TRO issued to Poe was not warranted because she failed to provide “convincing evidence” that the Comelec erred in ordering the cancellation of her COC.

Tatad also contested Poe’s claims that the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion. He said that the poll body “anchored its findings, conclusions or rulings on the Constitution, the law or jurisprudence, after a meticulous examination of the facts and the evidence presented.”

He added: “Petitioner Poe questions the proceedings…by raising a litany of grounds but without presenting convincing evidence tending to prove that errors of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion were committed by public respondent. In light of this, the assailed resolutions [by the Comelec] cannot be set aside or reversed.”

Inhibition of SC justices

In the same comment, Tatad also opposed Poe’s request for associate justices Antonio Carpio, Teresita Leonardo de Castro, and Arturo Brion to inhibit from her disqualification cases.

The 3 justices, who are part of the 9-member SET, voted to disqualify Poe based on petitioner Rizalito David’s claim that the senator is not a natural-born Filipino.

Five members of the SET, however, voted in favor of Poe and denied David’s petition.

Carpio, De Castro, and Brion have already inhibited from the petition filed by David questioning the SET decision. 

A notice of resolution received by David last week showed that the 3 justices have decided to recuse themselves “due to prior participation in the SET.”

OSG backs SET ruling

Meanwhile, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) backed the ruling of the SET, where 5 senators voted to uphold Poe’s status as a natural-born Filipino and recognized her rights as an adopted child.

“The SET reasonably and correctly ruled that proof of private respondent’s status as a foundling did not necessarily equate to the lack of proof of Filipino parentage. Neither did it translate to an inability to prove Filipino parentage,” Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said in a 28-page comment also filed on Monday.

Hilbay said the SET was right when it ruled in Poe’s favor, based on evidence such as the senator’s physical features and the circumstances of her discovery.

Poe, the adopted daughter of movie stars Jesusa Sonora Poe (Susan Roces) and Ronald Allan Kelley Poe (Fernando Poe Jr), was found abandoned in the parish of Jaro in Iloilo in 1968.

The argument that Poe needs to prove that either of her biological parents is Filipino imposes undue burden on the senator, Hilbay added.

“To impose scientific levels of certainty, as by way of a DNA sample of a Filipino parent, as the only acceptable means to prove one’s filiation, would be to impose a burden significantly higher than that which is normally required for these proceedings,” he said. Rappler.com

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