Is the Supreme Court set to announce its decision on the disqualification case vs Senator Grace Poe’s presidential bid?
Citing highly-placed sources, The Manila Times reported late Monday night that the office of SC Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo is already circulating a draft ponencia to his colleagues but no voting has taken place so far, contrary to persistent rumors that a decision has been made.
Poe is being challenged on two fronts: that she is not a natural-born Filipino citizen because her biological parents are unknown and that she has not met the ten-year residency requirement set by the 1987 Constitution for presidential candidates.
She needs to win in both issues for her candidacy to move forward although settling the first question is far more important for her. If she is declared not a natural-born citizen, she will not only be disqualified from running for president this year. She will also eventually lose her Senate seat because the 1987 Constitution sets the same requirement for senatorial and congressional candidates.
Two divisions of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) separately ruled against her last December, but since her camp was able to get a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court, her name will remain on the ballots to be used for the May 2016 polls even if she is ultimately disqualified.
Of the 15 SC justices, 10 were appointed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo while 5 were installed by President Benigno Aquino III. The Manila Times source explained that five justices are siding with Poe, most notably Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justice Marvic Leonen. The source claimed that a close vote is entirely possible, with the magistrates expected to take their time in writing their respective concurring or dissenting opinions.
The renewed speculation about SC’s forthcoming decision on Poe’s case comes on the heels of the decision of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) to endorse her and her running-mate Senator Francis Escudero’s candidacy. NPC is the political party founded by business magnate Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, who is said to be moving behind the scenes to secure a favorable decision for Poe.