SC: Poe qualified to run for president

Kathlyn dela Cruz, ABS-CBN News

SC: Poe qualified to run for president 1
Senator Grace Poe gestures while addressing her supporters during the start of the national elections campaigning at Plaza Miranda, Quiapo on February 9, 2016. Running mate Senator Francis Escudero and Team Galing at Puso senatorial slate joined Poe during the sortie. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - The Supreme Court (SC) has ruled in favor of Senator Grace Poe, saying she can run for president in the May 9, 2016 elections.

The high court voted 9-6 in favor of Poe who challenged her disqualification by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) over citizenship and residency issues.

The justices who voted to grant the consolidated petitions of Poe to reverse the ruling of the Comelec are:

  • Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno,
  • Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr.,
  • Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta,
  • Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin,
  • Associate Justice Jose Perez,
  • Associate Justice Jose Mendoza,
  • Associate Justice Marvic Leonen,
  • Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, and
  • Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.

Those who voted to deny Poe's consolidated petitions are: 

  • Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio,
  • Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro,
  • Associate Justice Arturo Brion,
  • Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo,
  • Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes, and
  • Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe.

"The court will release the text of the decision and separate opinions in the next few days," said SC spokesperson Atty. Theodore Te in a press briefing Tuesday.

"As you may understand, upon the voting, the court will then finalize who will write for the court. That matter has not yet been decided, and once the ponente has been decided, then the text of the decision will follow."

In an interview on radio dzMM, Te advised the public not to speculate and just wait for the text of the high court's decision.

"Wala pang binigay na detalye kung ano yung kadahilanan, kung anong isyu ang tinalakay nila," he said. "Hanggang sa oras na ito ang alam ko lang ay 9-6 yung decision. Ayokong mag-speculate at sinabihan ko nga yung mga reporters kanina na huwag tayo mag-speculate kung ano yung dahilan -- ito ba ay citizenship, ito ba ay residency."

Poe gladly welcomed the decision of the high court, saying it 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 proteksyon 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.

Her legal counsel, Atty. George Garcia, added that they can now breathe freely again and therefore focus more on their campaign.

"Ito po ay malugod niyang tinatanggap at kahit po paano eh makaka-move on na po kami. Yun pong pangangampanya niya, hindi na po kami mahihirapang magpaliwanag sa mga mamamayan natin, kababayan natin. Makakapag-concentrate na po tayo sa kung ano talaga bang kailangan ng ating mga mamamayang Pilipino," Garcia said.

Poe, running as an independent candidate, was disqualified by two divisions of the poll body in December last year for failing to meet the citizenship and 10-year residency requirements for presidential candidates.

The second division, which tackled the disqualification case filed by lawyer Estrella Elamparo, ruled that there was deliberate attempt on the part of Poe to "mislead, misinform or hide a fact" from the electorate when she stated in her certificate of candidacy (COC) that she is a resident of the Philippines for 10 years and 11 months up to the day before the May 9, 2016 polls.

The first division, which tackled the consolidated petitions of former Senator Francisco "Kit" Tatad, former UE Law Dean Amado Valdez, and De La Salle University Professor Antonio Contreras, likewise issued a similar ruling.

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."

READ: A foundling named Grace

The senator subsequently filed motions for reconsideration before the Comelec en banc (full bench), but the en banc upheld the rulings of the first and second divisions cancelling Poe's COC for president.

Poe then sought relief from the SC, which issued temporary restraining orders (TROs) against the disqualifications handed down by the poll body.

In January, the high court started holding oral arguments on the consolidated petitions of Poe to reverse the Comelec en banc's ruling disqualifying her from the presidential race.

During its presentation, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), which refused to represent the Comelec, said the probability that Poe is a natural-born Filipino is 99.93 percent -- just like any other foundling found in the Philippines.

The OSG refused to represent the Comelec in the cases due to a prior commitment it made with the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), which dismissed the disqualification case filed against Poe by Rizalito David.

Poe is currently sharing the lead with Vice President Jejomar Binay in the latest presidential preference survey of Pulse Asia.

The survey, conducted among 1,800 registered voters from February 15 to 20 before the first PiliPinas presidential debate, showed Poe getting 26% voter support while Binay got 25%. - With reports from Dexter Ganibe and Junry Hidalgo, dzMM