SUPPORTERS of presidential aspirant Grace Poe on Wednesday claimed that Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel Roxas II was behind all the attacks on his rivals, and warned Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte that he was next.
In a press conference, Adopt Grace Poe Movement president Rez Cortez said they saw a pattern in which Roxas, who lags in all opinion polls, is eliminating competitors who are ahead of him.
“You can say there is a conspiracy in the moves,” Cortez said in Filipino, citing the filing of a disqualification case against Poe at the Senate Electoral Tribunal by Rizalito David, and four other cases filed before the Commission on Elections.
Cortez said he can see the “pattern of elimination” starting with presidential candidate Vice President Jejomar Binay, who was leading in the polls until the Roxas camp would launch attacks that would discredit him and take voters away from him.
When Poe began to top the surveys, Roxas’ camp used different lawyers to file cases against her, Cortez claimed.
“There is a pattern. When Vice President Binay was number one in the surveys, they moved to eliminate him. When Senator Poe became number one in the surveys, she became the target,” Cortez said.
“Now Mayor Duterte is number one in the survey, so he should get ready because they will plan to eliminate him too,” Cortez added.
Binay’s ratings declined after he and his family were implicated in allegations of corruption in the Makati Building II project.
A day after Poe filed her Certificate of Candidacy in October, four individuals filed petitions against her—a development that Cortez said was suspicious.
He questioned why the cases were being treated separately and not consolidated so that the issue could be settled quickly.
Last week, the Comelec 2nd Division cancelled Poe’s CoC for material misrepresentation, favoring the petition of Estrella Elamparo.
There are three other petitions pending with the Comelc’s 1st Division.
David was the first to file a petition against Poe, questioning her qualification to sit as a senator, and arguing that she could not be a natural-born Filipino because she was a foundling and her parents were not known.
Cortez alleged that David was a former member of Roxas’ staff, while Elamparo was in a law firm that handled several cases for Roxas’ friends.
He added that former University of the East Law Dean Amado Valdez, who also filed a petition against Poe, was coerced into doing so—but he did not say by whom.
Cortez challenged Roxas to fight fairly.
“Even though you have a lot of resources, those will run out,” he said.
Senator Francis Escudero, Poe’s running mate, said they are more than willing to face David in the Supreme Court, after David challenged the SET decision in favor of Poe.
“This is part of the legal process that any aggrieved party can pursue. We will again face him in the Supreme Court,” Escudero said, after David challenged the SET ruling dismissing his petition.
The SET—composed of three SC justices and six senators—affirmed the election of Poe in the Senate, saying she is a natural-born Filipino citizen and is therefore qualified to run and be elected not only as senator, but also as president.
Poe, the topnotcher in the 2013 senatorial polls, is also facing multiple cases before the Commission on Elections, all seeking to invalidate her candidacy for president in the 2016 elections.
Escudero insisted that Poe “remains a presidential candidate unless the Supreme Court says otherwise.”
He said they will continue to exhaust all legal remedies and will stop only once the SC has ruled with finality on Poe’s eligibility to run and be elected both as senator and president.
“We will continue to fight for her [Poe] to run and run up to the Supreme Court,” said
Escudero said Poe stands a good chance of getting a favorable ruling from the high court given its long-standing tendency to let voters, not judges and lawyers, settle election issues as long as they do not involve crimes or obvious violations of the law.
Escudero also said he expects the Comelec en banc to review Poe’s petition against the 2nd Division decision to disqualify her from running for president.
Escudero said the 63-page motion submitted to the poll body contains pertinent evidence that will prove that Poe is qualified to run for president.
“Everything they want to know on the residency and citizenship of Senator Grace are included in the MR,” Escudero said.
“I just hope they will decide on the merits of this case because what is at stake here is the George Garcia, Poe’s legal counsel, said the three-member 2nd Division erred and committed grave abuse of discretion when it sought to disqualify her from the presidential race on grounds that she allegedly misrepresented the number of years she has been residing in the country.
Escudero said he was disappointed with the hasty move of the poll body when it had yet to weed out the nuisance candidates from the official list of candidates.
“They really focused first on Senator Grace and we were surprised with their haste in coming out with the decision,”Escudero said.
The country’s second largest political party, the Nationalist People’s Coalition said Wednesday it has not yet decided to endorse Poe.
“They are still in the process of consulting, listening and in due time they will make their decision,” said Poe spokesperson Valenzuela Mayor Rexlon Gatchalian.
The party is split between supporting Poe or Vice President Jejomar Binay. With John Paolo Bencito
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