Grace Poe’s accuser defends Comelec before the Supreme Court
Grace Poe’s accuser defends Comelec before the Supreme Court 
Petitioner Antonio Contreras, who has questioned Grace Poe's residency, says the presidential aspirant is politicizing a legal and constitutional issue

MANILA, Philippines – Lest the country goes into a “political crisis,” one of the accusers of Grace Poe urged the Supreme Court (SC) to uphold the Commission on Elections (Comelec) decision barring the senator from running for the presidency in the 2016 elections.

On Wednesday, January 6, De La Salle University professor Antonio Contreras filed a 41-page comment before the SC, slamming Poe for politicizing a legal and constitutional issue.

“The petitioner [Poe] is forcing the republic toward a political crisis. In arguing that we allow her to continue her candidacy, she in effect is demanding that we grant her the privilege of seeking refuge in her alleged honest mistake, or in the incompetence or ignorance of her legal advisers,” Contreras said.

He asked the SC to “consider the enormous political impacts…on the stability of our political institutions, on the integrity of our law and our political processes, on the rationality of the electoral process, and on the rationality of the electoral process, and on the general health of our republic” if it recognizes Poe’s argument.

Contreras is one of the 4 petitioners who filed disqualification cases against Poe before the Comelec. He alleged that the senator is not qualified to run for the presidency because of her “failure to meet the 10-year residency requirement.” (READ: Grace Poe’s residency in PH: When do we start counting?)

Five out of 7 Comelec commissioners agreed with Contreras that Poe has not met the residency requirement for presidential candidates, but only 4 of them believe there was deliberate intent on the part of Poe to mislead the public on her residency status.

Still, the Comelec en banc’s majority decision upheld the rulings of two Comelec divisions cancelling Poe’s certificate of candidacy (COC) for president. (READ: How Comelec commissioners voted on Grace Poe’s case)

The SC, however, temporarily stopped the poll body from cancelling her COC after Poe filed two petitions for certiorari. The High Court has scheduled the oral arguments on Poe’s petitions on January 19. 

Defending the Comelec, Contreras told the SC on Wednesday that the poll body did not commit grave abuse of discretion. In fact, he argued there is solid jurisprudence backing the Comelec’s ruling that Poe failed to meet the residency requirement.

“The Comelec was correct in basing its judgment on presence of intent to deceive and mislead purely on the facts and circumstances that were presented, as fresh evidence had to be adjudicated on their faces,” he explained. –

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