Drilon to SC: Decide Grace Poe’s case now or risk poll’s integrity

MANILA, Philippines – Liberal Party stalwart and Senate President Franklin Drilon expressed disappointment over the Supreme Court’s slow place in deciding the disqualification case against presidential bet Senator Grace Poe. (READ: SC sets another hearing, moves slowly on Poe case)

He said this "lack of sense of urgency" on the part of the High Court would threaten the credibility of the May 2016 elections.

Drilon is referring to the possibility of including Poe's name in the ballot for the May 2016 elections but later having to consider her votes stray if she is suddenly disqualified. The Commission on Elections has postponed the printing of the ballots at least 3 times.

Drilon, who is seeking re-election under the administration slate led by Poe’s opponent Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, said the High Court has the power to hold marathon hearings on important cases such as Poe’s. 

“I am not happy with the pace of trial in the Supreme Court. It appears that the High Court lacks a sense of urgency. This is not an ordinary case. It will have a vast impact on our future,” Drilon said on Wednesday, February 10.

“[I urge the SC] to give the case extra ordinary attention, so that it can be decided earlier in order to protect the integrity and credibility of the May 2016 polls,” Drilon said.

One of Poe's accusers, lawyer Estrella Elamparo, earlier asked the High Court to hold continuous hearings on Poe's case. The SC, however, did not act on the motion. 

Drilon recalled how the SC, in his similar request in the past, reprimanded him and told him "we know what we are doing."

“Such arrogance does not have a place in a public discourse. The issue cannot be left hanging. The case is posing serious threats to fair and credible elections in May and only the Supreme Court’s prompt action can eliminate that threat by resolving the case at the soonest,” Drilon said.

Drilon earlier pleaded the Commission on Elections to wait for the final court decision on Poe’s status before printing ballots with the survey front runner’s name – making some camps think he is only waiting for Poe's disqualification. (READ: If no SC ruling by Feb 1, Poe stays on ballot)

But Drilon said his only goal is to avoid confusion among the voters.

“I am not passing judgment on the qualification nor disqualification of Senator Poe. I am just saying that the more prudent thing to do is to wait for the final decision of the Supreme Court,” he earlier said.

'Respect' processes

The camp of Poe said they agree with Drilon as they have been pushing for the early resolution of the case.

"The sooner the cases are decided on, the better for our upcoming elections," Poe's spokesman Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian said.

They, however, oppose Drilon's earlier call for the poll body to wait for the final decision before the printing of ballots.

"With all due respect, the TROs issued by the SC and upheld by the majority are still in effect. The Comelec has no legal basis not to print Senator Poe's name in the ballot," Gatchalian added.

The 5th day of oral arguments on Poe's disqualification case is set to resume on February 16, after which all camps are to file their memoranda. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com