The Supreme Court is today scheduled to hear oral arguments on two disqualification cases filed against Senator Grace Poe.
It can be recalled that last month, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) en banc affirmed separate rulings made by two of its divisions disqualifying Poe from the 2016 presidential race on the grounds that foundlings are not considered as natural-born Filipino citizens and because she has not met the ten year residency requirement set by the 1987 Constitution for presidential candidates.
Below are the four scenarios that may happen once the Supreme Court decides on the cases perhaps by March 2016 (her father won his SC case around the same time 12 years ago).
1) Poe wins both the citizenship and residency case
The Senator needs to win on both the citizenship and residency issues for her to be ruled eligible to run for president in May 2016.
2) Poe wins the citizenship case but loses the residency issue
If the SC rules that foundlings like Poe are automatically considered natural-born citizen on one hand but declares that she is short of the ten-year residency requirement set by the 1987 Constitution on the other, then she cannot run for president this 2016, but she may be able to do so in future presidential elections.
3) Poe wins the residency case but loses the citizenship challenge
The Filipino Scribe has long pointed out that of the two challenges against Poe’s candidacy, the question about her natural-born citizenship is the one that poses a fatal threat not just to her presidential aspirations but to her entire political career.
It will be absolutely meaningless for Poe to win the question of residency but lose the challenge to her citizenship. Such a ruling will have immediate consequences for her:
*Ineligibility to run for president in 2016
*Ineligibility to seek any executive and legislative position as long as the 1987 Constitution is in effect
Although filed as a separate case before the SC, the disqualification case that defeated 2013 senatorial candidate Rizalito David filed against Poe at the Senate Electoral Tribunal also hinges on her not being a natural-born Filipino. In other words, it is possible for her to eventually lose her Senate seat as well.
4) Poe loses both the citizenship and residency case
The final outcome will be the same as #3 if and when the SC upholds the COMELEC’s twin decisions disqualifying Poe based on the two aforementioned grounds.
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE
Because Poe’s camp was able to secure from the SC a temporary restraining order against the COMELEC en banc’s ruling disqualifying her, her name will most likely be included in the ballot once the poll body begins printing them by February 1.
It is of utmost importance for the SC to decide on Poe’s disqualification cases as soon as possible. Prolonging the uncertainty over her candidacy creates confusion among the electorate. For example, Joshua Kurlantzick, a fellow for Southeast Asia at the United States-based Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in The Diplomat last January 17 that “the Philippines could be in for serious turbulence” if Poe’s supporters refuse to recognize whoever wins the election without her on the race.
PS: The oral arguments can be watched live beginning 2PM through the SC’s official YouTube channel.