THE Commission on Elections 1st Division cancelled the Certificate of Candidacy of Senator Grace Poe on Friday, dealing a second blow to her run for the presidency.
Like the 2nd Division that ruled against Poe last week on a similar petition, the 1st Division said Poe committed material misrepresentation in her CoC when she claimed she was a natural-born citizen and that she had resided in the Philippines for 10 years—both requirements for running for president.
Voting 2-1, the 1st Division headed by Commissioner Christian Robert Lim favored the petitions of former Senator Francisco Tatad, University of the East Law Dean Amado Valdez, and De La Salle University professor Antonio Contreras.
“Upon reviews of the facts, applicable laws, and jurisprudence, the Commission resolves to grant the petitions and cancel the Certificate of Candidacy of respondent,” the resolution said.
Poe twitted the commissioners for ignoring the facts and said it was “hurtful” that her very identity was being taken away from her.
“We submitted evidence of my citizenship and residence, putting our full faith in a just process,” Poe said.
“However, it is sad the Comelec 1st Division has chosen to ignore the facts just to deny me the chance to better serve our countrymen, and also deny our people their choices in an open election. “I am a true Filipino from birth. I was raised as a Filipino, lived, studied, got married in the Philippines, and wish to serve my fellow Filipinos as a Filipino,” she said.
Poe’s lawyer, George Garcia, said the 1st Division decision would not stop the senator’s candidacy.
“We are still a candidate, and our name is still in the list,” said Garcia, who said the fight would go on until the Supreme Court has had the final say.
Referring to Poe’s claim that the data entered in her CoC for senator in 2013 was an “honest mistake,” the 1st Division said it was “incredible to think that an educated woman and already then a public servant with full staff support, including a legal team, would not know on how to declare the facts in her CoC during the senatorial elections in 2013.”
The poll body added that the CoC form for a senatorial candidate is “very clear” that what is required to be stated was the period of residency up to the day of the 2013 elections.
“Ignorance of the law excuses no one. Respondent [Poe] is presumed and expected to know the law. She is bound by its effects and consequences in case of violation thereof,” the Comelec said.
Moreover, the Comelec also agreed that Poe is not a natural born citizen because she was adopted as a foundling with unknown biological parents.
“To emphasize, the letter of the 1935 and 1987 Constitutions are clear and unambiguous; jurisprudence likewise are unmistakable and definite. A simple reading thereof yields what is already obvious and apparent conclusion—that respondent [Poe] is not a natural born citizen,” the division said.
“The clarity of the law, notwithstanding, respondent chose to ignore and brush aside the Constitution and jurisprudence and misrepresent herself as natural born citizen, clearly in order to serve her purpose and suit her intent of running for the presidency,” the Comelec said.
Commissioners Luie Guia and Rowena Guanzon voted to cancel Poe’s CoC while Lim dissented, citing three reasons.
First, he argued that Tatad’s petition cannot be treated as one to deny due course to, or, cancel, Poe’s CoC.
“The Tatad’s petition should have been dismissed outright for availing a wrong mode to assail the qualifications of the respondent,” Lim said in his 81-page dissenting statement.
Secondly, on the issue of residency, Lim said that both Valdez and Contreras failed to take in to account that Poe was able to show actual, physical and personal presence in the Philippines since May 24, 2005 and therefore, he said there was no material misrepresentation committed.
Third, Lim said, Valdez did not squarely put in issue the fact that Poe is not a natural-born citizen, only that she cannot claim to be natural born-citizen based on her reacquisition of her Filipino citizenship.
Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said that in the wake of the Comelec’s latest ruling, Poe was in danger of having her name removed from the official ballots.
“The decision foreshadows what will happen at the Comelec en banc,” he said in a text message.
Macalintal also advised Poe to prepare a strong petition to the Supreme Court in an anticipation of an unfavorable ruling from the Comelec en banc.
Unless the Supreme Court issues a temporary restraining order against the Comelec decisions, Poe’s name is in danger of being deleted from the ballots for president, Macalintal added.
While Poe admitted that the chances of a favorable decision from the Comelec were not good, she said she would not back down from the race.
“I assure you that I am still a candidate for president. Let us fight for genuine democratic elections, where the people’s welfare takes front and center,” said Poe.
She added that what was at stake was not only her candidacy but the rights of all foundlings, who should not be disadvantaged for circumstances that were not of their doing. With Sandy Araneta
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