MANILA (UPDATE) - Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Monday issued separate temporary restraining orders (TROs) on the disqualifications handed down by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc on Senator and presidential aspirant Grace Poe.

Supreme Court spokesmen Ted Te said Sereno gave both public and private respondents 10 days to comment on the petitions for certiorari that seek a reversal of the rulings of the poll body's First Division, which disqualified Poe on the natural-born Filipino requirement, and the Second Division, which disqualified her also on the citizenship requirement as well as the 10-year residency requirement.

Oral arguments on the petitions are set on January 19, 2 p.m. at the new session hall in the Supreme Court.

Sereno issued the stay orders based on the written recommendation of the member-in-charge.

In response, Poe thanked the Supreme Court for immediately granting her petition to stop the Comelec en banc from enforcing its December 23 resolutions cancelling her certificate of candidacy for president.

"I thank the Supreme Court for a just and compassionate decision. From the start, I put my full faith in the judicial process. The Comelec denied our people their choices in an open election but I am confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the truth and the spirit of the Constitution," she said.

She also thanked the High Court for acting on her petition despite being on recess for the holidays.

Poe's lawyer George Garcia earlier noted that the high court will be on recess until January 10. However, under Rule 7, Section 7 of the SC Internal Rules, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is empowered to act on urgent cases and issue temporary restraining orders (TROs) or status quo ante orders (SQAOs) without holding a session of the justices.

The TRO issued by Sereno will then have to be confirmed by the majority of the justices when sessions resume on January 11 for the SC divisions and January 12 for the full court.

The TROs were granted on the same day the petition for certiorari was filed by Poe's lawyer, who scored Comelec's haste and timing in issuing two separate decisions granting petitions to disqualify Poe.


The Comelec en banc recently voted 7-0 affirming a petition to cancel Poe's certificate of candidacy in the presidential race because she is not a natural-born Filipino.

The poll body also voted 5-2 that Poe does not meet the 10-year residency requirement for presidential candidates.

The poll body came out with the decision last December 23, the last working day before the long Christmas break, and gave Poe only five days to seek reversal from the Supreme Court.

With the high court issuing a TRO on the Comelec en banc decisions, Poe's name will have to stay in the ballot, according to Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.

Jimenez added that it is possible that ballots may be printed with names of candidates facing disqualification, such as Poe, while cases are not fully resolved before the high court.

If Poe's name remained in the ballots and the SC ultimately decides that she is not qualified to run for president, her votes will be considered stray.

''The TRO prevents the Comelec from implementing Poe's disqualification and from removing her name from the ballot. This also means that Poe remains a candidate for president,'' a statement from Poe's office reads. - with a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News