MANILA (UPDATED) - Senator Grace Poe will now take her disqualification cases before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to the Supreme Court (SC).
This, after the Comelec en banc dismissed the motions for reconsideration filed by Poe, upholding the rulings of the first and second divisions cancelling her certificate of candidacy (COC) for president due to citizenship and residency issues.
Poe's counsel, Atty. George Garcia, was served the copies of the two decisions of the en banc (full bench) on the two MRs of Poe Wednesday afternoon.
The en banc, voting 5-2, denied the MR file by Poe on the first division ruling on the consolidated petitions of former Senator Francisco Tatad, former UE Law Dean Amado Valdez, and De La Salle University Professor Antonio Contreras to disqualify the senator from the 2016 presidential race.
Those who dissented were Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista and Commissioner Christian Robert Lim. Lim, who chairs the first division, was the lone commissioner who voted in favor of Poe on the consolidated petitions.
Voting 5-1-1, the en banc also denied Poe's MR on the second division ruling on the disqualification case filed by lawyer Estrella Elamparo.
Bautista dissented while Lim inhibited. Petitioner Elamparo was an associate in Lim's former law office.
BREAKDOWN OF VOTES
In a press briefing, Bautista explained that the commission voted separately on the issues of jurisdiction, residency for 10 years, natural-born citizenship, deliberate attempt to mislead on the residency and citizenship, and finally to grant the petitions to cancel Poe's COC.
Concerning the Elamparo case, where Lim inhibited, the en banc voted 6-0 that the poll body has jurisdiction over the case instead of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.
Bautista explained that the Presidential Electoral Tribunal only takes jurisdiction over a case once the winner is proclaimed after the elections.
The en banc voted 5-1 that Poe does not meet the 10-year residency requirement to run for president. Only Commissioner Luie Tito Guia voted that Poe complied with it.
The en banc voted 6-0 that Poe is not a natural-born citizen. Four members voted there was a deliberate attempt on the part of Poe to mislead on both the residency and the citizenship. Only Guia and Bautista dissented on the residency issue while Al Parreño and Bautista dissented on the citizenship issue.
In the end, 5-1 voted to grant the petition of Elamparo, with Bautista as the lone dissent.
Concerning the consolidated cases of Tatad, Valdez and Contreras, the en banc voted 5-2 to grant their petition to cancel Poe's COC.
Voting 4-3, the en banc found there was deliberate intent to mislead on the residency. Those who dissented were Guia, Lim and Bautista. The poll body also found there was deliberate attempt to mislead on the citizenship in a vote of 4-2-1. Lim, who had said the petition of Tatad should have been dismissed outright due to technicalities, inhibited.
The en banc voted 7-0 that the Comelec has jurisdiction on the cases and that Poe is not a natural-born Filipino, and 5-2 that she does not meet the 10-year residency requirement. Guia and Lim dissented.
Bautista said the votes show it's a fair conclusion that the Comelec unanimously found Poe is not a natural-born citizen.
NO NEW EVIDENCE
Commissioner Rowena Guanzon explained that majority of the members of the en banc felt there was a deliberate misrepresentation on citizenship since Poe had no evidence she is a natural-born citizen and that she knows she's adopted.
Guanzon explained that in so far as the residency is concerned, the en banc felt that the earliest she could have established her domicile here was August 2006 when she registered to be a voter. Guanzon said that in May 2005, Poe was still a foreign visitor.
"Both matters are false. The declarations in the COC she was natural-born and she has 10 years residency as of May 9, 2016 are false. These are material to her candidacy. This affects her qualification to run for the highest office of the land."
Guanzon said they acted with dispatch even if they did not consolidate the cases which were raffled off to separate divisions.
"No new arguments were raised, no new evidence, no new jurisprudence in their favor. So the majority voted to affirm the decision of the first division and the second division," she said.
POE'S CAMP QUESTIONS TIMING
Poe's counsel said their next step is to appeal the senator's disqualification cases before the SC.
Garcia, however, questioned the timing of the Comelec's release of the decisions, noting that they can only file their appeals before the high court by Monday. Thursday (December 24) and Friday (December 25) are holidays.
He called the release of the decisions today (December 23) as "irregular" and "beyond the ordinary."
The Comelec has said its decisions will be implemented if Poe fails to get relief from the high court within five calendar days.
Garcia also pointed out that the Comelec released two separate decisions, which means they would also have to file two separate appeals before the SC. Poe can seek a temporary restraining order (TRO) or a status quo ante order.
"Ang tanong, bakit po kami ginaganito? Sobra na po kaming kaawa-awa," Garcia told reporters after receiving copies of the poll body's decisions.
According to Garcia, the poll body should extend to the SC "judicial courtesy."
"Na kahit pa lumipas yung limang araw, hinihintay nila kung ano ang magiging aksyon ng Korte Suprema sa mga petisyon na ifa-file sa kanila... Sana naman po mapagbigyan kami, pakinggan lang po muna natin yung initial na gagawin ng Korte Suprema," he said.
For now, the name of Poe remains on the ballot for the 2016 elections, her lawyer insisted, stressing that the Comelec's decisions are not yet final and executory.
"Sa puntong ito po, ang masasabi ko po sa lahat ng mga kababayan natin, sa mga naniniwala sa amin at hindi naniniwala sa amin, sa mga supporters namin, na sa kasalukuyan ang pangalan po ni Senator Grace Poe ay nasa listahan pa rin," Garcia said.
READ: SC must decide quick on Poe case to avert poll chaos - lawyer
Poe, who is one of the top contenders in the upcoming presidential race, nonetheless remains undaunted, saying the final battleground is in the high court.
"I was not surprised with decision of the Comelec en banc. It was expected and I remain undaunted by it. I am a Filipino and qualified to offer myself as President of our country. The Comelec cannot change that much less deprive our people of their right to choose our next leader," she said.
"I am hopeful and confident that our magistrates, based on jurisprudence and precedents, will be objective and fair in their discernment of my case and, in the end, will let the Filipino people decide who our next president will be. Until the high tribunal's final ruling is out, I remain a candidate for President of the Filipino people."
STILL ON THE BALLOT
The Comelec, for its part, likewise said that Poe's name remains on the ballot for now, pending the decision of the high court.
The Comelec has said it is looking at a list of 23 presidential candidates, 6 vice presidential candidates, 68 senatorial bets and 119 party-list groups for the next year's polls.
Bautista also explained that they released the rulings today to give the senator's camp enough time to file their appeals.
"Ang issue was dapat ba naming ilabas ngayon or hintayin na lang natin matapos yung holidays? Pero ang magiging problema nga nun is that kung masyadong matagal, baka mawalan sila ng panahon pumunta sa Supreme Court," said Bautista.
"So again, collectively, we decided that probably we should release it as soon as possible." -- With reports by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News; Johnson Manabat, dzMM