Poe’s woes go on: 5 days to appeal

PRESIDENTIAL aspirant Senator Grace Poe has only five days to bring her case to the Supreme Court before the Commission on Elections excludes her from the official list of candidates, the chairman of the poll body said Wednesday.

In a press conference, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said Poe’s name was still on the list of candidates at the moment despite the poll body’s decision to disqualify her from running for president in 2016.

“Right now, her name is still on the ballot,” Bautista said.

However, Rule 37 of the Omnibus Election Code says decisions in pre-proclamation cases and petitions to deny due course to or cancel Certificates of Candidacy will become final and executory after the lapse of five days from their promulgation.

The lapse of the five-day period in this case would be  Dec. 28—meaning Poe’s camp would have to obtain a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court over the Christmas holidays and a weekend.

For Poe. Supporters of presidential candidate Grace Poe rally outside the Commission on Elections offices on Wednesday after the poll body disqualified Poe  in next year’s election. Ey Acasio 
Poe’s lawyer, George Garcia, questioned the timing of the Comelec en banc’s decision.

“We really didn’t expect the Comelec to side with us, but what is really sad is that they released this decision two days before Christmas,” Garcia said in Filipino. “Now we have no choice but to use these holidays to prepare our petition.”

A Supreme Court official said the justices may act on a petition filed by Poe even if they are on recess.

Court spokesman Theodore Te said the tribunal’s rules allow them to grant relief in urgent cases and issue temporary restraining orders without the need to first hold session.

If case is raffled to full court, it is the Chief Justice who can issue the TRO; if it is to a division, it will be the chairman of the division, Te said.

Under the rules, the Chief Justice may issue a TRO upon the recommendation of the justice in charge and subject to confirmation of the full court in their next session, which will be on  Jan. 12, 2016.

Garcia said they would file their petition on  Monday, Dec. 28, since the Supreme Court is closed today and  tomorrow  for national holidays.
“We have until  Tuesday  [Dec. 29] to get a TRO from Supreme Court for Poe to stay on the ballot,” he said in an interview.
The disqualification cases against Poe were filed by lawyer Estrella Elamparo, former senator Franciso Tatad, De La Salle University professor Antonio Contreras and former University of the East law dean Amado Valdez.

Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno recently vowed to act swiftly on urgent cases related to the 2016 elections.

“In fact, we understand and it is clear to us that this Christmas season will not be a usual season for us. There might be things that we need to set aside because of the urgency of matters that need to be resolved,” she said.

“So we are keenly aware of all of those and you can see that most of the justices will be making themselves available for any eventuality… We need to work hard because this is the only process by which we can ensure that the right, just outcome will result,” Sereno said.

The Poe camp  on Wednesday  vowed to go after the “plotters” behind the disqualification cases and described the timing of the Comelec deicision as “suspicious.”

In a text message, Poe’s spokesperson, Valenzuela Rep. Rex Gatchalian said they would not allow the plotters to get away with what they did.
The leak of the Comelec en banc decision Tuesday night, he added, was aimed to sowing confusion and to hurt the Poe campaign.
“Why release the decisions in haste when the holiday breaks are upon us? “ Gatchalian said, noting that this could have been aimed at limiting Poe’s legal response.

“Despite these timing obstacles thrown our way, we will bring the battle to the Supreme Court in a timely manner taking into account the prescribed deadlines,” he said.

He said it was also “very disturbing” that some people within the Comelec leaked the decision even before the poll body could promulgate the decision.

“This is highly irregular and we believe that the Comelec should look into this. Protocols and procedures are being breached. That being said, the sinister minds behind this leak have one thing in mind—to sow confusion,” Gatchalian said.

Poe said she was not surprised with the decision of the Comelec en banc but said she was undaunted.

“I am a Filipino and qualified to offer myself as president of our country. The Comelec cannot change that much less deprive our people of their right to choose our next leader,” she said.

The Comelec en banc  on Tuesday  disqualified 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.

On Wednesday, Bautista said the Comelec had begun uploading the 216 names of candidates onto its Election Management System so that they would be able to print the official ballots by  Jan. 26.

Uploaded onto the EMS were the names of 23 presidential candidates, six vice presidential candidates, 68 candidates for senator and 119 candidates for party-list groups.

Poe welcomed the Comelec decision to keep her name on the list, but said a reversal of its decision to disqualify her would allow the 2016 polls to be “representative of the people’s will.”

In a statement, Poe reiterated that she is a Filipino who lived in the country for more than 10 years.
She considered the Comelec inclusion of her name in the ballot a “first victory” for the public.

“We are continuously standing as a candidate. I believe the Supreme Court will side with the truth and the right of the public to choose their leader. Like what I have always been saying, this is not only about me, but foremost, this is about giving importance to the voice of the Filipino.”
Poe, an independent presidential candidate, reiterated that she will overcome the legal hurdles concocted by allies of her political opponents so that Filipinos will not be robbed of a choice for president.

Topics: Grace Poe , Comelec
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