MANILA, Philippines – There are about a hundred other aspirants for president who could be declared election nuisances, but why did a Commission on Election (Comelec) division "prioritize" the cases filed to get survey front runner Grace Poe out of the race?
The senator's camp raised this question on Thursday, December 3, days after the poll body's Second Division ordered the cancellation of Poe's certificate of candidacy (COC) for president.
"Ang isa po sa aming 'kinasasama kaunti ng loob sa Comelec: bakit inuna ang kay Senadora Grace Poe?" Poe's lawyer George Garcia told reporters in a briefing at the Senate.
(One of the things we feel kind of bad about when it comes to the Comelec is this: why did they prioritize the case of Senator Grace Poe?)
"Samantalang 'yung kina Lucifer, at samantalang pati 'yung Intergalactic...hanggang ngayon pending sa Comelec. Eh kino-consider po at sinasabing nuisance sila. Hindi po kami nuisance, pero bakit kami inuna?"
(Meanwhile, cases against Lucifer, and that candidate called Intergalactic...those are still pending before the Comelec up to now. They are said to be and considered nuisance bets. We are not nuisance, but why are we being prioritized?)
But the Comelec law department filed cases motu proprio, or on its own, to disqualify 125 candidates who filed COCs from October 12 to 16. These 125 candidates will be subject to Comelec hearings to assess if they will be considered nuisance bets.
Poe is not part of this group of aspirants. She continues to lead in the latest presidential preference surveys despite the numerous disqualification cases filed against her.
This week, the Comelec Second Division decided on one of these cases, granting the petition of lawyer Estrella Elamparo who asked the Comelec to deny "due course" to Poe's COC. She had said that Poe's COC contains "material representations which are false."
The 3 members of the division – commissioners Al Parreño, Arthur Lim, and Sheriff Abas – unanimously voted that Poe, as a foundling, is not a natural-born Filipino – a decision contrary to the final ruling of the Senate Electoral Tribunal.
The division also cited Poe's COC for senator in 2013, and ruled that the senator is unable to fulfill the 10-year residency requirement for a president. The commissioners pointed out that, back then, she wrote that she was a resident of the Philippines for 6 years and 6 months. Almost 3 years on, she still has not supposedly met the 10-year residency requirement.
But Poe on Thursday said she was not trying to deceive anyone when she filed her candidacy. (READ: Poe on battle for candidacy: We will not fail)
"Kaya nga nandito ako ngayon para ipakita po ang ating mga pruweba, para malaman ng ating mga kababayan na wala akong niloloko dito sa proseso na ito. Kung sa tingin ko naman na wala akong katayuan dito, bakit ko pa ito itutuloy?" she said.
(That's why I'm here today to show you the evidence, so that the public will know I am not deceiving anyone in this process. If I think I don't stand a chance, why would I even push through with this?)
Garcia said they will appeal the Second Division's decision on Monday, December 7, before the Comelec en banc.
They are still studying whether to ask Parreño, Lim, and Abas to inhibit from the case, but he believes the commissioners should voluntarily inhibit themselves. (READ: Cancellation of Poe's candidacy: 'Comelec execs can't be dictated to')
"Gusto ko pong liwanagin na ang pagpapa-inhibit ay hindi dahil sa kinukuwestiyon ang kredibilidad, independence, o 'yung karangalan nila. Ang pagpapa-inhibit ay dahil sa dapat bang nagpa-participate 'yung mga nagdesisyon mismo dun sa apila na kung saan ang dinesisyunan ay 'yung mismong naging desisyon nila?" he explained.
(I want to clarify that asking for commissioners to inhibit is not because we question their credibility, independence, or honor. We ask them to inhibit because there is a question there of whether those who have decided should still participate in ruling on an appeal involving their decision.)
Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.