MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday, December 2, said it is set to decide if the official ballot for the 2016 elections will include presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe, who was disqualified by its second division.
In an interview with reporters, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the Comelec en banc will eventually meet to finalize the official list of candidates.
The Comelec is expected to announce the final list of candidates on December 15.
“The tendency is that if there is a case that has not been resolved with finality, the tendency will be to put the name of the candidate on the list. It doesn’t matter who,” Jimenez said.
He explained: “If a person has a pending motion with any body that might have an effect on the candidacy, and they're put on the ballot, it's easier to ignore the votes cast for that person, than to take them out of the ballot and then later on find out that they should've been on the ballot in the first place.”
Jimenez cited the case of presidential candidate Vetellano Acosta in 2010. The Comelec included Acosta's name in the ballots but finally disqualified him after the ballots had been printed.
The Comelec spokesman made these statements after the poll body's second division on Monday, December 1, disqualified Poe from the presidential race by cancelling her certificate of candidacy (COC).
'Hindi pa tapos ang storya na 'to'
The Comelec second division said Poe, one of the leading presidential bets, committed “material misrepresentation” in her COC for president.
The division cited her COC for senator in 2013, in which she said she has lived in the Philippines “for 6 years and 6 months.” This meant Poe is unable to fulfill the 10-year residency requirement for a president, the division said.
Poe, for her part, said it was an “honest mistake.”
She also vowed to appeal this recent decision before the Comelec en banc, or the 7-member commission sitting as a whole.
“We will exhaust all legal remedies,” Poe’s spokesman Rex Gatchalian said Tuesday.
Jimenez said Poe can appeal the Comelec division ruling not only before the Comelec en banc, but also before the Supreme Court (SC).
Because it involves the SC, this means the legal battle could even last for years.
Jimenez told reporters, “Hindi pa tapos ang storya na 'to (This story is not yet over)." – with reports from Camille Elemia/Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.