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GIVING UP ON COMELEC?

Grace Poe looking to SC to reverse disqualification


Despite an impending appeal of her disqualification case before the Commission on Elections en banc, Senator Grace Poe is already looking to the court of last resort to allow her to run for the presidency next year.

"I'm expecting the decision to be the same for the other division that will also be deciding on the three other cases filed there," Poe said on Wednesday, a day after the Comelec's Second Division disqualified her for failing to meet the Constitutional residency requirement to become president.

"Kami naman po ay kumpiyansa din na kung ito ay darating sa Supreme Court ay mas magkakaroon tayo ng pagkakataon na mabigyan ng hustisya," she added.

Three other disqualification cases against Poe, filed by former Sen. Francisco "Kit" Tatad, political science professor Antonio Contreras, and University of the East Law dean Amado Valdez, are pending before the Comelec's First Division.

Poe said that she will still file her appeal before the Comelec en banc, but isn't expecting favorable results.

"Mahirap pangunahan, e kasi minsan nagugulat nalang tayo sa mga nagiging desisyon nila," she said.

"Mahirap makakita ang nagbubulag-bulagan. Sabi ko na nga po, nandoon na lahat ng dokumento pero ang gusto talaga nila ang strikto lamang kung ano lamang ang nakalagay doon. Nawala na iyong spirit of the law. Parang nililimitahan nila ang pagtingin dito," she added.

In case of an adverse decision by the Comelec en banc, Poe could still elevate her case before the Supreme Court.

Political hand

Poe said it wasn't hard to see politics behind the decision, with the senator tagging two of her rivals as behind the cases against her.

"Napakasigasig kasi ng proseso na ginagawa nila. Talagang gusto nila akong ipitin. Siguro kasama iyan sa stratehiya nila," Poe said.

"Pero sino ba talaga ang magbebenepisyo dito? Eh 'di iyong mga katunggali ko na dalawa na sigurado ako na iyon ang nagpaharap ng mga kasong iyon," she added.

Asked later if she was referring to administration standard bearer Mar Roxas and Vice President Jejomar Binay, she said: "Oo, sila naman 'yun."

Marikina Representative Miro Quimbo, a spokesman for the LP-led Koalisyon ng Daang Matuwid, denied the allegations.

“The Liberal Party coalition will not allow itself to be party to any activity involving the disqualification of Secretary Mar’s opponents. Any insinuation to the contrary is baseless and malicious,” Quimbo said.

Sought for Binay's comment, former Cainta Mayor Mon Ilagan, a spokesman for the Vice President, said there would be no comment on the issue from their camp at this time.

Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez, meanwhile, brushed off any insinuation that the poll body could be compromised.

"Hindi kami puppet," he said.

Difficult road

In any case, election law experts Romulo Macalintal, Beng Sardillo, and Carlo Vistan told GMA News Online that Poe is facing a difficult road to reverse the Comelec division's ruling.

The Comelec division composed of Commissioners Al Parreno, Arthur Lim, and Sheriff Abas sided with lawyer Estrella Elamparo's petition that Poe failed to meet the 10-year residency requirement mandated by the Constitution for a presidential candidate.

Vistan said it is unlikely that any evidence presented by Poe on the matter will convince the three commissioners who already voted against her. The three commissioners of the Second Division will also be part of deciding on the case once it reaches the en banc.

"That kind of evidence — statements or admission against one's own interest — that's a very good evidence against a person," he said. "In other words, parang umamin ka o nagsabi ka ng isang bagay na kino-contradict 'yung sinasabi mo ngayon."

Macalintal noted that she faces an uphill climb unless she presents new evidence in her appeals.

"Mahihirapan rin si Poe kapag wala siyang bagong ebidensya na iniharap sa Comelec, kasi 'yung findings ng Comelec, 'yung mga 'yan, laging sinu-sustain 'yan ng Korte Suprema, maliban na lang kung merong tinatawag na grave abuse of discretion," Macalintal told GMA News Online in a telephone interview.

"Pero dito, kung 'yun ay suportado ng tatlong mahistrado ng Korte Suprema, paano mo sasabihing nag-abuse ng discretion ang Comelec? So kailangan makumbinsi ni Poe 'yung walong mahistrado sa Korte Suprema para bumoto sa kaniya. 'Yun ang mahirap."

Sardillo added that if the en banc upholds the division's decision, Poe will have to seek a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court in order to still make it in the ballot.

"Absent a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court, the resolution of the en banc becomes final and executory," she said.

But a TRO from the High Court would complicate matters. Without a final executory decision, Comelec would be forced to include Poe's name in the ballot. And if the Supreme Court rules against her, votes for Poe in next year's elections would be considered stray.

"Maraming mangyayari. Marami," Macalintal said. "Depende 'yan kung babaguhin ng en banc [ang ruling], depende kung anong sasabihin ng Korte Suprema — kung ilalagay 'yung pangalan niya sa balota. Depende kung magdedesisyon ang Supreme Court before the elections, or kung magdedesisyon after the elections," he said. —with Rose-An Jessica Dioquino/JST, GMA News

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