Poe critics appeal SC ruling

THE Supreme Court has been asked to reconsider its decision allowing Senator Grace Poe to run for president after upholding her being a natural-born Filipino and her 10-year residency preceding the holding of the May 9 presidential election.

In a 48-page motion for reconsideration, former senator Francisco Tatad, former University of the East law dean Amado Valdez, lawyer Estrella Elamparo and political science professor Antonio Contreras reiterated their claims that Poe failed to comply with two of the requirements for a presidential candidate—being a natural-born Filipino and being a resident of the Philippines for 10 years.

Tatad, Valdez, Elamparo and Contreras were the ones who petitioned the Comelec to cancel Poe’s Certificate of Candidacy for presidential election due to her alleged failure to comply with the said two vital requirements.

“The Decision of the Honorable Court, if not reconsidered, will go down the annals of judicial history as a 47-page perversion of the Constitution which, depending on the results of the forthcoming elections and succeeding events, will cause the election of a true nuisance candidate or the disenfranchisement of millions of Filipinos. Such ignominy will forever taint the Honorable Court’s legacy,” the appellants stressed.

According to them, if the Court will not reconsider its decision and Poe is elected without any successful election contest afterwards, the decision will be “the proximate cause of catapulting to power a candidate who does not comply with two of the most basic and important qualifications for the presidency.”

“If not reconsidered and election contest succeeds thereafter, the millions of Filipinos who are anticipated to vote for her will be effectively disenfranchised. Their votes will be nullified and wasted,” the motion stated.

In a decision penned by Associate Justice Jose Perez, the SC granted Poe’s petitions seeking to reverse the Comelec ruling that disqualified her from seeking the presidency, saying that she is presumed to be a natural-born Filipino based on circumstantial evidence and statistical probability.

Voting 9-6, the SC declared Poe qualified to run for president in the May 9 general elections since a foundling like her is a natural-born Filipino, and that she satisfied the 10-year residency requirement prior to the holding to the polls.

The tribunal agreed with the Solicitor General’s assertion that Poe is probably natural-born based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showing that more than 99 percent of babies born in the 1960s and 1970s, both in Iloilo and the entire Philippines, were natural-born.

The SC also said Poe is probably natural-born because she was found at a Catholic church in Iloilo and possesses “typical Filipino features such as height, flat nasal bridge, straight black hair, almond shaped eyes, and an oval face.

However, the movants asserted that the high court erred when it held that there was no intent on Poe’s part to mislead the Comelec when she wrote write in her certificate of the candidacy that she a natural-born Filipino despite being a foundling.

They argued that there is no basis for the Court to declare Poe qualified to run   for president considering that only seven of 15 justices declared her a natural born Filipino citizen and resident for the past 10 years.

It noted that of the nine justices who concurred with the majority ruling, Justices Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa and Diosdado M. Peralta, limited their ruling to the supposed existence of grave abuse of discretion on the part of respondent Comelec.

“It is respectfully submitted that the implication is that Poe remains disqualified to run for President notwithstanding the 9-6 vote on the issue of whether or not the Comelec had committed a grave abuse of discretion,” the motion stated.

“Since 15 Justices of the Supreme Court participated in the deliberations of the issues from start to finish, it is illogical and a violation of the rule of numeracy for the Honorable Chief Justice, to state in her separate concurrence that 7 is a majority sufficient to dispose of the core issues of citizenship and residency,” the motion for reconsideration said.

They argued that majority vote is more than half of the votes cast by persons legally entitled to vote, after taking blank votes and abstentions into account.

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