SC suspends Sen. Grace Poe’s disqualification in presidential bid

MANILA, Philippines – The country’s highest court released a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the earlier decisions of the two Commission on Elections (Comelec) divisions cancelling Sen. Grace Poe’s certificate of candidacy (COC) for 2016 Presidential elections.

As read to the SC ruling, “A temporary restraining order is issued, effective immediately and until further orders from this court, ordering you, respondent Comelec, your agents, representatives or persons acting in your place or stead, to cease and desist from implementing the assailed Comelec en banc resolution dated December 23, 2015.”

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A copy of TRO issued by Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno

The Comelec’s first division cancelled Poe’s COC due to questions on citizenship and residency raised by former senator Francisco Tatad,  Amado Valdez and Antonio Contreras.

The Comelec’s second division affirmed the first division’s verdict based on the petition filed by lawyer Estrella Elamparo stating that Poe failed to meet the constitutional requirement of a 10-year residency for presidential candidates.

The restraining orders were granted on the same day Poe’s lawyers filed the petition for certiorari which temporarily stopped the Comelec from implementing its decision to completely remove her name from the ballot.

In the petition, Poe’s camp asked the high tribunal to issue restraining orders to reverse the the poll body’s decisions.

The SC has set Poe’s petitions for oral arguments on January 19.

On Filing TRO

Poe filed her petition on the same day her request for TRO was released by the high court.

The Supreme Court is on recess until January 10. However, The Chief Justice has the power to issue a TRO even when the court is on a break.

“I am optimistic that the high court, or Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, herself, will not only act expeditiously, but positively on the case to grant the temporary restraining order we are seeking,” she said.

Poe’s camp also claimed that the Comelec commissioners committed grave abuse of discretion in granting the four petitions to cancel Poe’s COC. Poe was given five days only to file the petition in SC.

It could be remembered that Poe renounced her American citizenship on October 21, 2010 based on documents she submitted to the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) where a disqualified case against the senator was also filed. The SET dismissed the complaint against Poe and the decision has been appealed at the SC as well.

Thankful Poe

The senator expressed her gratitude for granting the restraining orders in her favor.

“I thank the Supreme Court for a just and compassionate decision. From the start, I put my full faith in the judicial process,” Poe said.

“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.”

Now that her case has reached the final battleground, Poe asked the magistrates for fair judgment on the evidences.

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Supporters of Grace Poe converged in SC as she files petition for release of TRO to suspend her disqualification in Comelec (Photo by CNN)

Poe also filed a separate petition asking Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, and Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo de Castro and Arturo Brion, who voted at the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), to inhibit from the proceedings.

Poe is hopeful that the SC will decide the same way it did on her father’s case in 2004.

Poe’s name would remain in the official list of candidates for president and in the ballot for now.