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Comelec en banc disqualifies Grace Poe from presidential polls

The Commission on Elections en banc has upheld the rulings of the First and Second Divisions cancelling Senator Grace Poe's certificate of candidacy and disqualifying her from next year's presidential elections.

A highly reliable source said Poe lost her two appeals after it was found that she was not a natural-born Filipino and that she lacked the ten-year residency required of presidential candidates.

Poe faced four disqualification petitions at the Comelec. The Second Division, which released its decision December 1, granted the petition filed by  Estrella Elamparo, which questioned whether Poe met the residency requirements for a candidate.

The First Division meanwhile ruled on the three other petitions questioning Poe's nationality. These were filed by former Sen. Francisco Tatad, political science professor Antonio Contreras, and University of the East Law dean Amado Valdez.

The Second Division sided by Elamparo on the residency issue, while the First Division granted the three petitions collectively, saying Poe committed material misrepresentation both in claiming she was a natural-born Filipino and a resident of the Philippines for more than the required 10 years.

The senator's camp had repeatedly sought for the consolidation of cases, but this was not granted at the division and en banc levels.

However, Poe caught a break when, according to the source, the en banc denied petitioner Elamparo's motion that Poe be excluded from the official list of candidates and the ballot for 2016.

The Comelec is expected to promulgate the decisions on Wednesday.

Even before the Comelec First Division ruled to cancel her COC, Poe was already looking forward to bringing her case to the high tribunal after the Second Division first disqualified her from the presidential elections.

"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 in early December after the Second Division ruled to cancel her COC.

"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.

Also, as far as Poe's camp is concerned, the senator is still a candidate in the 2016 presidential elections.

"At this point, the process has not taken its full course, hence Senator Poe is still in the running for the presidency and should be kept in the official list of candidates," said Poe's spokesman Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchlian, when sought for comment.

"If news reports are accurate, as stated before, we will exhaust all legal remedies," he said.Rose-An Jessica Dioquino/NB/DVM, GMA News