Tatad camp calls SC ruling on Poe 'unconstitutional'

Kathlyn dela Cruz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The camp of former Senator Francisco "Kit" Tatad on Tuesday slammed the Supreme Court (SC) for its allegedly "unconstitutional" ruling reversing the disqualification of Senator Grace Poe by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from the presidential race.

Speaking to ANC's "The Bureau," Tatad's legal counsel, Atty. Manuel Luna, said they will appeal the high court's decision allowing Poe to run for president in the May 9 elections.

Luna said they believe the decision can still be reversed, noting that the vote was not unanimous.

"Definitely, we will file a motion for reconsideration. While we respect the majority who voted in her favor, we however have reservations as to the legal reasoning and the basis of their decision," Luna said.

"A 9-6 decision is not a very strong decision. It's always subject to reversal by the court itself, as have been seen in some cases in the past," he added.

READ: SC: Poe qualified to run for president

According to Luna, the high court's decision favoring Poe is unconstitutional. He argued that the SC disregarded the Constitution, specifically Article IV which pertains to citizenship qualifications.

"We will try to argue strongly and tell them that the Constitution is supreme. No one is higher than the Constitution, not even the Supreme Court. And this decision of the court, to my mind, with all due respect to the court, is an unconstitutional decision. This is not the first time that the court has committed such an unconstitutional act," he said.

Tatad, in his motion, said Poe cannot run for president in this year's elections because she is not a natural-born Filipino and she failed to meet the 10-year residency requirement for candidates.

The poll body's first division, which tackled the consolidated petitions of Tatad, former UE Law Dean Amado Valdez, and De La Salle University Professor Antonio Contreras, had ruled to cancel Poe's certificate of candidacy (COC).

It said Poe cannot claim to be a natural-born Filipino under the 1935 or the 1987 Constitution because she "could not definitively show her direct blood relationship with a Filipino parent since her biological parents are unknown."

Luna said they will point out in their motion for reconsideration the "grievous error" that the high court has committed.

"This is not good for the country, considering that this will fuel speculations that the decision is not really very legal but considered some political factors, which would constitute a desecration of the Constitution itself. And so, we feel that they went beyond the letter and the spirit of the Constitution. They sustained the lies that have been established and these were committed by her no less than in several documents. And so, we are dismayed with the way the 9 justices resolved this case," said Luna.

As for one of Poe's political opponents, Vice President Jejomar Binay, his camp downplayed the SC's decision, saying it has no bearing on their campaign.

"This election is not about who the opponents are but who is the most prepared to address the problem of poverty. Vice President Binay is that candidate," said Atty. Rico Quicho, campaign spokesperson of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

Poe, for her part, is grateful to the SC, saying its ruling is a victory not only for her but for all foundlings in the country.

"Nais kong pasalamatan ang Korte Suprema na binigyan nila ng pagkilala ang katotohanan, ang katarungan at higit sa lahat proteskyon para sa mga naaapi sa ating mga kababayan. Mayroon na pong puwang ngayon upang pagbigyan natin ang mga kababayang mahihirap at mga napapabayaan sa sistema. Mayroon na po tayong pagkakataon ngayon ng tunay na pagbabago," Poe said.

"This decision truly shows that our country's laws protects all but most especially those who are downtrodden. Furthermore, this decision is a victory for our democracy because now our voters will truly have a fair elections where they will be allowed to choose from a complete list of candidates. We are calling on our critics to move on and start focusing the discourse on what really matters to our people - platforms of governance. Sen. Poe will continue to drum up interest to her advocacy of Gobyernong may Puso," added Poe's spokesman Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian.