MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) fought back against presidential aspirant Senator Grace Poe on Thursday, January 7, by filing a comment before the Supreme Court (SC) on her petition against the poll body.
The Comelec requested the SC to dismiss Poe’s latest petition. Poe, who leads presidential preference surveys, is asking the SC to junk the Comelec ruling that barred her presidential bid.
In a 73-page comment, the Comelec said it “did not commit any grave abuse of discretion” when it prohibited Poe from running. It said it “was merely performing its constitutional mandate of administering election laws.”
The poll body said: “How can Comelec be then considered to have capriciously and whimsically exercised its discretion, when its decision was arrived at with due regard to its rules, after hearing, with full appreciation of the pieces of evidence present, and after a thorough study of the pertinent laws and jurisprudence?”
The Comelec’s comment involved its ruling on the consolidated cases filed by former Senator Francisco Tatad, university professor Antonio Contreras, and former law dean Amado Valdez against Poe.
The Comelec earlier barred Poe from running for president because she is supposedly not a natural-born Filipino. She also lacks the required number of years to live in the Philippines, the poll body said.
This comment comes after the SC on December 28 temporarily stopped the Comelec from implementing its ruling because the senator asked the high court to junk it.
‘SET ruling doesn’t bind Comelec’
In Comelec's 73-page comment on Thursday, one of the points it raised involves a decision by the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) on November 17, 2015, saying that Poe is a natural-born Filipino citizen.
Quoted by the Comelec, Poe stressed that Comelec “acted with grave abuse of discretion when it disregarded the SET decision.”
The poll body however said on Thursday, “The decision of the SET does not bind the Comelec.”
Saying the SET’s decision “is not a legal precedent,” the Comelec added, “The SET ruling cannot circumvent nor does it preclude the Comelec from making a contrary conclusion based on applicable law and jurisprudence.”
“It bears stressing that the Comelec is a constitutionally created body independent and separate from the SET,” the poll body said.
The Comelec is set to return to the SC for oral arguments on January 19.
Comelec commissioners Rowena Guanzon and Arthur Lim will represent the Comelec in the oral arguments.
Earlier, the Solicitor General refused to defend the poll body against Poe as it backed the SET decision supporting the senator. – Rappler.com
Read Rappler's explainers on the cases and rulings on Grace Poe:
Can Comelec 'disqualify' Grace Poe?
3 reasons Comelec erred in ruling vs Grace Poe
Comelec should have dismissed Tatad's case vs Grace Poe
3 curious points in Comelec 1st division's ruling vs Grace Poe
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.