SC rules with finality: Poe qualified to run for president

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Senator Grace Poe speaks to the crowd at the Liwasang Bonifacio on March 8, 2016 after the Supreme Court (SC) ruled that she is qualified to run for president in the May 9, 2016 elections. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Supreme Court (SC) has officially released its resolution denying with finality all motions for reconsideration (MRs) on its earlier ruling upholding Senator Grace Poe's candidacy for president.

Maintaining their 9-6 vote in favor of Poe's twin petitions against her disqualification by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the high court magistrates ruled during their April 5 summer en banc session that the three MRs filed on the case "failed to present substantial arguments to warrant a reversal" of their March 8, 2016 decision.

The MRs were filed by the Comelec; former Senator Francisco Tatad, Estrella Elamparo and Antonio Contreras who filed a joint MR; and Amado Valdez.

"Let entry of judgment be made in due course," the high court ordered.

The high court, in its March 8 decision, ruled that the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion when it cancelled Poe's certificate of candidacy (COC) on the ground that she is not a natural-born Filipino and not compliant with the 10-year minimum residency requirement.

READ: SC: Poe qualified to run for president

"The only issue before the Comelec was false material representation and not qualification of petitioner. The Comelec cannot itself, in the same cancellation case based on the ground of false material representation, decide the qualification or lack thereof of the candidate.

"Thus, as presently required, to disqualify a candidate there must be a declaration by a final judgment of a competent court that the candidate sought to be disqualified "is guilty of or found by the Commission to be suffering from any disqualification provided by law or the Constitution," the SC had said in its assailed March 8 decision.

In the March 8 ruling, penned by Associate Justice Jose Perez, the high court said that Poe, a foundling, is a natural-born Filipino and satisfied the minimum residency requirement.

ON CITIZENSHIP

In the March 8 decision, the high court noted that Poe's "blood relationship with a Filipino citizen is demonstrable," which leads to the conclusion that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen.

"[T]here is more than sufficient evidence that petitioner has Filipino parents and is therefore a natural-born Filipino... the burden of proof was on private citizens to show that petitioner is not a Filipino citizen.

"She also has typical Filipino features: height, flat nasal bridge, straight black hair, almond shaped eyes and an oval face," the SC decision read.

The high court further said that Poe's admission that she is a foundling "did not shift the burden to her because such status did not exclude the possibility that her parents were Filipinos, especially as in this case where there is a high probability, if not certainty, that her parents are Filipinos."

The high court gave weight on the statistics presented by Poe and the Office of the Solicitor General which pointed to a very high possibility that petitioner's parents were Filipinos.

"These statistics were not disputed by Comelec," the SC said.

ON RESIDENCY

"[Poe's] claim that she will have been a resident for ten (10) years and eleven (11) months on the day before the 2016 elections is true," the high court ruled last March 8 on the issue of Poe's residency compliance.

The SC said Poe "presented voluminous evidence to show that she and her family abandoned their US domicile and relocated to the Philippines."

"[T]he evidence of petitioner is overwhelming and taken together leads to no other conclusion that she decided to permanently abandon her US residence (selling the house, taking the children from US schools, getting quotes from the freight company, notifying the US Post Office of the abandonment of their address in the US, donating excess items to the Salvation Army, her husband resigning from US employment right after selling the US house) and permanently relocate to the Philippines and actually reestablished her residence here on 24 May 2005 (securing TIN, enrolling her children in Philippine schools, buying property here, constructing a residence here, returning to the Philippines after trips abroad, her husband getting employed here)," the decision read.

In sum, the SC said the Comelec failed to see that Poe was not attempting to hide anything in her COC "because all her answers were on record and were established facts."

READ: Comelec appeals SC decision allowing Poe to run

READ: Valdez, et al join forces to appeal SC decision in Poe case

Aside from Perez, the ponente of the decision, those who voted in favor of Poe include Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno; and Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco, Jr., Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Jose Mendoza, Marvic Leonen, Francis Jardeleza, and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.

Those who voted against Poe are Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Arturo Brion, Mariano Del Castillo, Bienvenido Reyes, and Estela Perlas-Bernabe.

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