This Grace Poe saga is but another episode to this recurring election drama of last minute disqualifications and cancellation of COCs, to which we are too accustomed.
They are not only confusing to the public; they affect even Comelec’s own preparations for the election. This is attributed to that flaw in our election system, where schedules for the filing of COCs, the printing of ballots, and election day itself are way too close to each other.
The only way to correct this is to set the filing of COCs way ahead of the elections, giving the Comelec and the Supreme Court ample time to settle and decide all election cases without the pressure of logistical and operational deadlines.
This will also afford the Comelec to focus on its election management function as the election gets nearer, rather than dividing its attention at the most crucial phase to resolve hundreds of pre-election cases filed before it. These changes, however, are beyond the power of the Comelec but something for Congress to think about. Unless this is done, the same problem is expected to recur next elections.
What will happen if Grace Poe’s name is printed on the ballot but she eventually loses her case before the Supreme Court?
It has been settled that votes in favor of candidates whose certificates of candidacy have either been cancelled or set aside are considered “stray.” While they may still be counted by the voting and consolidating machines, the final tallied result will simply be disregarded.
This is consonance with Aratea v. COMELEC (GR Number 195229, October 9, 2012), where the High Court ruled that a candidate whose COC is cancelled –whether before or after elections – is by law not a candidate from the very beginning, his certificate of candidacy being void ab initio.
Thus, should a disqualified Grace Poe emerge with the highest number of votes in next year's presidential election, the next eligible or qualified candidate with the highest number of votes should be proclaimed president. – Rappler.com
Emil Marañon is an election lawyer who served as chief of staff of recently retired Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. He is currently studying Human Rights, Conflict and Justice at SOAS, University of London, as a Chevening scholar.