THE Commission on Elections en banc on Tuesday disqualified Senator Grace Poe from running for president in 2016 on the grounds that she is not a natural-born citizen and that she did not meet the 10-year residency requirement for the post.
Ruling on a motion for reconsideration filed by Poe, the commissioners voted Tuesday night to uphold the decisions of the First Division 5-2, and Second Division 5-1 to disqualify the senator, a source said.
A spokesman for Poe said they would appeal the decision before the Supreme Court.
Poe faced four disqualification cases, with the Second Division ruling on the complaint filed by lawyer Estrella Elamparo, and the First Division on the petitions filed by former senator Francisco Tatad, Dela Salle University professor Antonio Contreras, and University of the East Law Dean Amado Valdez.
In a phone interview, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said some commissioners had leaked the decision, which was supposed to be announced Wednesday, but acknowledged the decision was “likely” to deny Poe’s motions for reconsideration.
“Some of the commissioners have leaked the decision. It’s true there was a vote, but the decision has not been promulgated,” Bautista said in Filipino.
Asked if it was correct to say that the Comelec denied Poe’s motion, Bautista said: “That was the vote a while ago.”
He said he would answer all questions about the decision when he announced it Wednesday.
In a separate interview, Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said whoever lost the case could now take it to the Supreme Court.
“So this is good, the parties can now go to the Supreme Court very soon. As we said, the SC is the final arbiter,” Guanzon said.
She also noted that Poe and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte might not be included in the official ballot if the vote goes against them and the Supreme Court does not issue a temporary retraining order in their favor within five days of the promulgation of the Comelec decision.
Guanzon declined, however, to comment on how Tuesday’s vote went.
Poe’s spokesman, Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian, said they would exhaust all legal remedies if the new reports were true.
“We will appeal to the wisdom of the Supreme Court. We know that our arguments are based on laws,” said Gatchalian, who said they are yet to receive a copy of the Comelec decision.
He reiterated that Poe is a natural-born Filipino citizen and has met the residency requirement.
He also said they were optimistic that the Supreme Court justices would see the merits of their position.
At this point, he said the process has not taken its full course. Because of this, Poe is still running for the presidency and should be kept in the oficial list of candidates for president.
On Dec. 1, the Comelec Second Division voted unanimously to disqualify Poe, based on the complaint filed by Estrella Elamparo.
Ten days later, on Dec. 11, the Comelec First Division voted 2-1 against Poe, saying she committed material misrepresentation in claiming to be a natural-born citizen and a Philippine resident for more than 10 years after separate petitions were filed by Tatad, Valdez and Contreras.
Poe filed motions for reconsideration before the Comelec en banc on Dec. 7 and 16.
Also on Tuesday, a poll official said the Comelec would not release an initial list of candidates on Wednesday as originally scheduled, but said they will be able to release the final list of candidates by Jan. 8, 2016.
There are 130 candidates for president who filed their Certificates of Candidacy and so far there are 29 aspirants who have been declared as nuisance candidate.
Earlier, Bautista and Comelec spokesman James Jimenez admitted that as long as the disqualification cases against Poe and Duterte were pending, their names would be included in the official ballot.
The Comelec on Tuesday received yet another disqualification case filed against Duterte, this time by the chairman of the University of the Philippines student council, John Paulo delas Nieves.
In his petition, Nieves asked the Comelec to declare the CoC of former PDP-Laban standard bearer Martin Diño as null and void, and to disallow Duterte from substituting for him.
He also asked the Comelec to delete Duterte from the list of candidates for president and that he be excluded from the official ballot.
Delas Nieves is the third petitioner who filed against Duterte.
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