MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) en banc confirmed the temporary restraining orders (TROs) issued by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in December 2015, provisionally stopping the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from cancelling Senator Grace Poe’s certificate of candidacy (COC) for president.
The en banc on Tuesday, January 12, voted 12-3 for the TROs to stay, confirming the earlier decision of Sereno.
The 3 who voted to quash the TROs were justices Antonio Carpio, Arturo Brion, and Teresita Leoanardo De Castro. They are the 3 magistrate who sit in the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), where they earlier voted against Poe in another disqualification case. (READ: Why did SC justices vote to disqualify Grace Poe?)
The confirmation of the TROs was expected, as SC spokesman Theodore Te earlier said there had been no instances in the past where the en banc overturned the chief magistrate’s decision. (READ: EXPLAINER: 3 reasons SC won’t likely lift the TROs on Comelec)
The High Court also confirmed the setting of the Comelec case for oral arguments on January 19. The oral arguments for another disqualification case – the one earlier decided by the SET in favor of Poe – has been reset to another date.
Given Comelec’s January 20 deadline for finalizing the templates for the printing of the ballots, the SC’s decision means Grace Poe’s name remains on the list.
In a media briefing after the en banc session, Te said that while the Solicitor General had inhibited from Poe’s cases against the Comelec, the government’s chief lawyer will still be notified to give his views. (READ: FULL TEXT: SolGen defends SET ruling in favor of Grace Poe)
Poe’s legal battle reached the SC after the Comelec en banc upheld the rulings of two Comelec divisions cancelling the senator’s COC for president due to issues on her citizenship and residency in the Philippines.
Five out of 7 Comelec commissioners believe Poe did not meet the residency requirement for presidential candidates, but only 4 of them believe there was deliberate intent on her part to mislead the public on her residency status.
Meanwhile, on the citizenship issue, all 7 members of the Comelec en banc voted against Poe’s claim that she is a natural-born Filipino, but only 4 voted that there was deliberate intent on the part of Poe to mislead the public.
Note that the unanimous vote of the Comelec commissioners on Poe’s citizenship is contrary to the final SET decision, which upheld the senator’s natural-born status.
In its comment filed with the SC on Monday, January 11, the Comelec said it is not legally bound to apply the SET ruling that declared Poe a natural-born Filipino.
The poll body also defended itself before the High Court, saying it did not commit grave abuse of discretion when it ruled against Poe. It maintained that the senator is ineligible to run for president and had deliberately misrepresented herself in her COC. – Rappler.com
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