The Supreme Court resolved on Tuesday motions for reconsideration filed by the Commission on Elections and other parties seeking a reversal of its March 8 decision declaring Senator Grace Poe qualified to run for president in May 9 general elections.
The high tribunal, however, decided to defer the release of its decision until the justices have submitted their concurring or dissenting opinions.
During the summer en banc session in Baguio City, the 15-member bench agreed to make the announcement on Saturday, April 9.
“The decision will be announced on Saturday, 9 April 2016,” SC spokesman Theodore Te said, in a media briefing.
Te said the magistrates did not offer an explanation why they set the release of the ruling on Saturday, which falls on a holiday (Araw ng Kagitingan) and is exactly one month before the May 9 general elections.
A highly-placed source in the judiciary revealed that the justices agreed to not to make any pronouncements about the decision until after the main ruling and various opinions have been submitted for their signatures.
When the SC decided to grant the petitions of Poe in regular session last March 8, the Court spokesperson immediately announced the 9-6 voting in favor of Poe.
However, when the main decision and concurring and dissenting opinions were released to the public three days after, various sectors raised issues of confusion and uncertainty on the ruling on Poe’s citizenship and residency eligibilities.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio stressed in his dissenting opinion that there was no majority ruling to establish Poe’s eligibility as a natural-born citizen, saying only seven justices in the majority voted in favor of petitioner on this citizenship issue.
Carpio, along with four other justices in the minority ruling, took the position that foundlings like Poe cannot be considered as a natural-born citizen eligible for election to national posts, while three others –Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta, Mariano del Castillo and Benjamin Caguioa – opted not to take a stand on the issue, believing it was premature to do so.
Former University of the East College of Law dean Amado Valdez, one of the four petitioners in the disqualification cases against Poe, urged Peralta, Del Castillo and Caguioa to reconsider their stand and instead take a vote on the citizenship issue so as to settle the controversy before the elections.
The three other disqualification petitioners - former Senator Franciso “Kit” Tatad, De La Salle University professor Antonio Contreras and former Government Service Insurance System counsel Estrella Elamparo – also filed their joint motion for reconsideration last month and asked the SC to reconsider its ruling.
The Comelec, in its separate appeal, also urged the high court to hold another voting on the issues on citizenship and residency, agreeing with Carpio’s dissent that there was no majority vote finding Poe as a natural-born Filipino qualified to become president.
The Comelec and the four detractors of Poe all insisted that the senator is not eligible for the presidency for not being a natural-born citizen and not meeting the 10-year residency requirement under Article VII Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution.
In the assailed ruling penned by Associate Justice Jose Perez, the SC held that there was no material misrepresentation on the part of the Senator when she declared in her Certificate of Candidacy that she is a natural-born Filipino and a resident of the Philippines for 10 years.
The SC held that Poe is presumed to be a natural-born Filipino based on circumstances such as physical appearance as well as statistical probability.
The tribunal sided with the Office of 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 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.”
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