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SC ruling 'vindication' of Senate Electoral Tribunal – Sotto

VINDICATED. Reelectionist Senator Vicente Sotto III (shown herecampaigning in Quezon province on March 9, 2016), a member of theSenate Electoral Tribunal, says the Supreme Court decision allowingpresidential candidate Grace Poe to run, vindicated SET's own rulingthat Poe is a natural-born Filipino. Photo by Camille Elemia/Rappler

VINDICATED. Reelectionist Senator Vicente Sotto III (shown herecampaigning in Quezon province on March 9, 2016), a member of theSenate Electoral Tribunal, says the Supreme Court decision allowingpresidential candidate Grace Poe to run, vindicated SET's own rulingthat Poe is a natural-born Filipino.

Photo by Camille Elemia/Rappler

QUEZON, Philippines – A member of the Senate Electoral Tribunal called the Supreme Court (SC) ruling allowing Grace Poe’s presidential bid as a "complete vindication" of the SET's own decision.

Senator Vicente "Tito" Sotto III, who is running for reelection on Poe’s Partido Galing at Puso slate, said on Wednesday, March 9, that the SC ruling would end all questions on the validity of the SET decision.

The SET, voting 5-4, earlier ruled that Poe is a natural-born Filipino citizen and can continue to serve as senator.

"The Supreme Court decision vindicated the Senate Electoral Tribunal. Nine justices agreed with our ruling. [It is a] complete vindication. I feel all allegations against us before will now stop,” Sotto said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Poe's accusers, however, have vowed to appeal the High Court decision, calling it unconstitutional. (READ: SC decision on Grace Poe unconstitutional – petitioners

Sotto is unfazed. He is confident that the SC’s game-changing decision would not be overturned.

 "I dont see any new evidence or grounds unless they can present [proof] that Grace's parents are foreigners and if they can find a birth certificate showing Grace was born in China,” Sotto told reporters in a chance interview during a campaign stop in Candelaria, Quezon.

The veteran senator hit critics questioning the SC decision.

“Sabi lang ng sourgrapes 'yan. Alam mo, ang una kong statement nang narinig ko 'yan na 9-6, una ko nasabi agad ay, “Praise God.' At pinagdarasal namin ‘yun, lahat ng sumusuporta kay Grace. Ang gusto kong malaman, kung ang nagpapa-disqualify ba ay nagdadasal din," he said.

(Only sourgrapes would say that. You know, my first statement upon learning of the 9-6 vote was, “Praise God." We prayed for that, all of Grace's supporters. What I want to know is if those who want her disqualified are also praying.)

'Stronger' NPC support for Poe

With the biggest roadblock to Poe's presidential bid removed, Sotto said the team is more empowered to campaign. 

"I think the campaigners of Team Galing at Puso are more energized. Those who have doubts before, they can now see their support will not go to waste,” he said.

Sotto, a member of the Nationalist People's Coalition, said the party support for Poe now is more solid. He maintained the party risked for Poe despite uncertainties on her eligibilities.

"NPC ang pinakamagaling sa usapin na ito dahil wala pang desisyon na ‘yan, tumaya na sila (NPC is the best in this matter because even without the decision, they already took a chance [with Poe]," Sotto said.

While he expressed hope that more NPC members would now support Poe, Sotto admitted there are other members who are already committed to other presidential bets.

 "If they cannot get out of their commitment, they will be forced to stay [in that commitment], but majority of us, especially now, have stronger support for Grace,” he said. 

Sotto remained mum when asked if more politicians from other political parties have expressed intention to join the NPC after the favorable SC decision. – 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

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