IBP raises questions on Poe SC ruling – Monday, 21 March 2016

Questions have been raised on Sen. Grace Poe’s eligibility to run for president by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
In a statement, the IBP board of governors said the main decision and opinions of justices suggest the High Court has not resolved the issues involving Poe’s qualification to run for office and having complied with the requirements of being a natural-born citizen and 10-year resident of the Philippines.
“While the decision appears to have rendered an opinion as to whether (Poe) is a natural-born, as well as whether she has satisfied the 10-year residency requirement for the presidency, it should be emphasized that the dispositive portion of the decision merely orders the reversal of the decisions of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) granting the petitions to disqualify her... and states that she is qualified to be a candidate for president in the national and local elections on May 9, 2016,” the statement explained.
“It can be concluded that the decision did not settle the matter of whether Poe is a natural-born citizen and whether she has met the residency requirement under the law,” it stressed.
The IBP said the ruling by Associate Justice Jose Perez and approved by a majority of nine justices held that only the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) can rule on such issues, not the Comelec.
“For this issue to be finally settled, the decision of the Supreme Court posits that, it is apparently necessary, for the eligibility of Poe to be determined with finality, that she must first win in the May 9 presidential election and someone must file a quo warranto petition against her with the Supreme Court sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal, for this tribunal to rule on this matter with authority, with jurisdiction and with finality,” the IBP pointed out.
Former Government Service Insurance System counsel Estrella Elamparo supported this position and said the SC decision did not uphold the eligibility of the senator for the presidency not only on citizenship but also on the 10-year residency requirement.
She contested the claim of Poe’s camp that the ruling has already resolved the legal issues hounding the senator’s eligibility.
“It’s not true that the issues on Senator Poe’s citizenship and residency eligibilities have already been resolved. In fact, none of these have been settled by court yet if you read the decision and opinions,” Elamparo told SC reporters.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio pointed out in his dissenting opinion the lack of majority ruling on Poe’s qualification as natural-born, Elamparo stressed the same can be said on the 10-year residency issue.
She explained that of the 15 justices who participated in the voting on Poe’s petition, only five have directly stated in their opinions that the senator would meet the residency requirement in the Constitution before the May 9 polls.
She was referring to Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Marvic Leonen, Francis Jardeleza and Jose Perez, who penned the decision.
She revealed that of the nine justices who approved the ruling, two of them — Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin and Jose Mendoza — did not issue their separate opinion and state for sure their concurrence on the residency issue.
“There are reports that they voted against Poe on the residency issue, we cannot say for sure because they did not write separate opinions. We cannot say that they actually voted on these issue, so there is need for the court to clarify that,” the lawyer stressed.
She said the two others — Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta and Benjamin Caguioa — concurred in the majority ruling only insofar as the finding of grave abuse of discretion on Comelec’s cancelation of Poe’s CoC due to material misrepresentation on her qualifications.
“Their concurrence was limited to the finding of grave abuse of discretion. We cannot say that they voted on the issue of residency because as they said in the citizenship issue, there was no need to settle the eligibility issues in deciding on this case,” she pointed out.
The lawyer added even on the issue of Comelec’s jurisdiction on the case, only a minority of six justices — Perez, Sereno, Leonen, Velasco, Bersamin and Mendoza — voted in favor of Poe.
She said Jardeleza, Caguioa and Peralta agreed with the dissenting justices that the poll body has the power to determine the eligibility of Poe as a presidential candidate.
Carpio was joined by four other magistrates — Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Arturo Brion, Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Bienvenido Reyes — in his dissenting opinion that Poe is not a natural-born Filipino and also lacks the residency requirement.
Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, on the other hand, also dissented in the majority ruling, saying Poe lacks residency requirement but the citizenship issue was not yet ripe for decision.
For these reasons, Elamparo said there is a need for the SC to clarify its ruling on both residency and citizenship issues against Poe — especially since the dispositive portion of the ruling specifically stated that Poe is eligible for the presidency.
“We can see on these three issues that there was no clear majority in the Supreme Court decision, contrary to what was written in the decision of Justice Perez. This is one big ground for reversal of the ruling,” she stressed.

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