MANILA (Mabuhay) – Vice presidential candidate and Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero yesterday expressed optimism that the Supreme Court would rule timely and in favor of presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares should the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) ruling on the disqualification case against her be questioned before the high tribunal.
Escudero, who is Poe’s running mate in the May, 2016, elections, also said he believes the lady senator would be able to hurdle the legal challenges thrown against her, saying the SC will take into consideration the importance of the lawmaker’s case the same way it did when it ruled on the case of actor Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) – Poe’s adoptive father – in 2004.
“Well I am hopeful and I think they will (rule timely). They know the importance of the case. And what I am holding on and vouching for is their decision in 2004,” Escudero said.
FPJ, then presidential candidate running against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA), won the legal battle in the Supreme Court which voted 8-5, with one abstention.
The SC then upheld the previous ruling of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and declared FPJ a “natural-born citizen and qualified to run.”
“You have to remember, majority of the court was appointed by GMA already at that time and the incumbent and sitting president was the one who was running (for president) and yet the Supreme Court, which could have sat on the case, ruled timely on the case sometime late March,” said the senator from Sorsogon, referring to then President Arroyo.
Arroyo beat then presidential candidate FPJ in the 2004 presidential elections. Like her, FPJ also faced a similar disqualification case.
Escudero said the same scenario can happen again, “more so now when you have a freer court.”
“You have a court that decides unanimously against the sitting president. And if you look on the other side you have a sitting president who says, that if you ask him, Grace should be allowed to run,” said Escudero referring to President Aquino’s earlier statements on Poe.
“So on both scores, there is sufficient reason I believe to hope and to believe that the court will rule timely on this case,” said the senator.
Escudero also said there is no law that precludes the SC from coming up with an adverse or favorable ruling after the elections.
“Their decision would still have to be followed. Whether it’s favorable or against, the respondent or petitioner as the case maybe, it depends but until now we still don’t know who is going to lose in the case,” he said.
Last week, the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) ruled 5-4 in favor of junking the petition to disqualify the senator, who is running for president in next year’s polls, which defeated senatorial candidate Rizalito David filed before the tribunal.
Those who voted to junk the disqualification case were Senators Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV, Pia Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Cynthia Villar and Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, while those who voted in the negative were Sen. Ma. Lourdes “Nancy” Binay, Supreme Court Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Teresita Leonardo de Castro, and Arturo Brion.
Escudero reiterated that the three associate justices who voted against Poe must inhibit in the SC deliberations if the disqualification case is heard by the high court.
“They should if they follow practice and tradition. Because in the SET and the HRET (House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal) there are also three justices in the SET and three in HRET as well and six (6) members of Congress,” Escudero pointed out.
“And by tradition and practice they inhibited because there’s a basic tenet in our due process of law clause in our Constitution that says you cannot review your own decision. That is violative of the due process clause,” the senator stressed.
With the SET decision, petitioner Rizalito David asked yesterday the tribunal to reconsider its ruling.
In a motion for reconsideration, David said the ruling of the SET is a “political decision” that violated the primacy of the Constitution over international laws.
David, who filed the disqualification case against Poe as member of the Senate, insisted that the senator is not a natural-born Filipino.
“Petitioner scored the majority for violating the Constitution with its legally infirm decision as well as political votes in the case to accommodate Respondent Poe. The five senator-judges failed to uphold judicial integrity in interpreting the Constitution and international laws,” David’s lawyer Manuelito Luna told reporters covering the Supreme Court.
In his motion, David wanted the SET to adopt the dissenting opinions of the three SC justices who are members of the tribunal.
He pointed out that the dissenting opinions “contain the correct reading, analyses or application of Article IV, Section 1 of 1935 Constitution (citizenship), Article VI, Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution (qualifications for senators) and the natural-born citizenship provisions in the 1987 and 1973 Constitutions.” (MNS)