This seems to be what the recent decision of the Supreme Court is saying on the disqualification case filed against Presidential Candidate Grace Poe. The Supreme Court voting 9-6 voted in favour of allowing Poe to run for President of the Philippines in the coming May 9, 2016 national elections. This also reversed the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that granted the petitions of four petitioners seeking for the disqualification of Poe on thebasis of material misrepresentation of hercitizenship and residency.
The Constitution of the Philippines allows only natural born citizen who have actually resided in the Philippines for at least 10 years before the date of elections to run for the Presidency. The petitioners raised the issue of natural Filipino citizen against Poe who is a foundling. She also became a U.S. citizen in 2001 although shereacquired her Filipino citizenship in 2006.
So where is the controversy in the decision of the Supreme Court to allow Poe to run for the Presidency?
There should be no problem with that. After all the Supreme Court is the court of last resort of the land. Under our republican state, the Supreme Court is co-equal with the Executive and Legislative branches of the government. It is the final arbiter and interpreter of all legal cases and controversies.
Well, first in the disqualification case against Poe, the Justice ponente has become the dissenting opinion after the voting of 9-6 against the draft ponencia of Justice Mariano del Castillo on the case. This raised some speculation that the Justices might have been pressured into voting for Poe. And considering that six (6) of the Justices who voted in favour of Poe were appointees of President Noynoy, this fanned rumors of who the real candidate of the President is despite his public pronouncements for Mar Roxas.
Whatmight have driven the speculations is that earlier the same Supreme Court issued a decision that became final on February 9, 2016, affirming the disqualification of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte Mayor Rommel Arnado who won in the 2013 elections.
Arnado’s case is similar to Poe in the sense that he also renounced his U.S. citizenship but continued to use his U.S. passport in travelling abroad on several times after requiring his Filipino citizenship. In thecase of Poe where the petitioners insisted thather continued use of her U.S. passport after reacquiring her Filipino citizenship is a material misrepresentation of her citizenship and residency when she filed her certificate of candidacy.
According to the Supreme Court on Arnado’s case, “Arnado, by using his US passport after renouncing his American citizenship, has recanted the same Oath of Renunciation he took.” This act of using a foreign passport was “fatal to Arnado’s bid for public office, as it effectively imposed on him a disqualification to run for an elective local position.” It was the bullet that killed his bid to become mayor of his town in 2013, if I may add.
So if the circumstances of Poe’s candidacy is similar, if not the same as that of Arnado’s case, why the change of mind in the case of Poe? Is the Supreme Court saying that “what is not favourable to the goose is favourable to the gander?”
We don’t question the supremacy of the Supreme Court in matters of legal cases but this surely will keep people wandering how it happened. I guess we will just have to wait for the texts of the decision which should be forthcoming soon. It was only the voting of 9-6 in favor of Candidate Poe that was announced by the Supreme Court.
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