SC urged to resolve appeal on Poe's SET case


MANILA – A veteran election lawyer on Wednesday urged the Supreme Court to resolve a petition assailing the Senate Electoral Tribunal's decision declaring Senator Grace Poe a natural-born Filipino.

Speaking to dzMM, Atty. Romulo Macalintal said the high court's recent decision overturning a Commission on Elections (Comelec) ruling which disqualified Poe from the presidential race should not be fully relied upon in determining whether the neophyte senator is a natural-born Filipino.

He said the main question in the Comelec case which was appealed by Poe before the high court is whether the poll body committed grave abuse of discretion in disqualifying the senator.

Voting 9-6, the high court junked Poe's disqualification by the Comelec over her citizenship and residency qualifications. The high court ruled that the poll body committed grave abuse of discretion in canceling Poe's certificate of candidacy.

''Malabo nga kasi ang desisyon ng Korte Suprema, pero ang pinag-uusapan nga kasi sa kanyang kaso eh hindi naman ang citizenship kundi nagsinungaling ba si Grace Poe nung siya ay gumawa ng certificate of candidacy (sa pagka-presidente),'' Macalintal said.

''Ang sinabi ng siyam na mahistrado, hindi siya nagsinungaling. Iyung 6 sinabi nagsinungaling siya. Iyun ang pinag-uusapan doon eh."

The poll body on Tuesday formally asked the high court to reverse its decision allowing Poe to run for president, saying there was actually "no majority vote" on the natural-born Filipino challenge to Poe's citizenship since out of the 15 magistrates who participated in the deliberation, only 7 justices voted that she is a natural-born Filipino.

But Macalintal said a high court ruling on Poe's set case will set a more concrete precedent with regard to the senator's citizenship.

''Ang talagang issue doon eh yung citizenship ni Grace Poe. Dapat yun ang hatulan nila kaagad. Kasi kung sabihin ng Supreme Court doon sa SET na siya ay natural born, tapos ang bagay na iyan. Kapag sinabing di siya natural born, at least meron na tayong decision,'' he said.

After the SET junked his quo warranto petition questioning Poe's citizenship, lawyer Rizalito David went to the SC to appeal his case. However, while the SC already ruled on the Comelec case, the appeal on the SET case remains pending.

The SET, for its part, also asked the SC to dismiss David's appeal.

Will the appeal on the SC decision on Poe's Comelec case be the final hurdle for the neophyte senator? The Integrated Bar of the Philippines does not think so.

In a report on The Philippine Star, the IBP, citing the SC ruling penned by Associate Justice Jose Perez and approved by a majority of nine justices, noted that in the event Poe wins the presidency, her citizenship can still be challenged before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.