Grace Poe wants inhibition of 3 Supreme Court justices

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senator Grace Poe filed a motion before the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, December 29, seeking the inhibition of 3 associate justices who voted against her in the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET).

Presidential aspirant Poe wants Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and Arturo Brion to inhibit themselves from her disqualification cases, which have already been brought before the high court. 

The 3 justices are part of the SET and all voted to disqualify Poe from the presidential race based on petitioner Rizalito David's claim that the senator is not a natural-born Filipino.

“Justices Carpio, De Castro and Brion have already prejudged petitioner on the issue of her citizenship and therefore ought to inhibit,” read Poe’s motion on Tuesday.

Carpio previously said he will inhibit himself from the SET case should it reach the high court, and expects the two other SC justices in the tribunal to do the same, “because we cannot review our own decision.”

But aside from the SET case, Poe is facing other petitions against her candidacy before the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The senator filed a separate motion on Tuesday urging the SC to consolidate her cases before the Comelec and the SET.

On Monday, December 28, the SC temporarily stopped the Comelec from cancelling Poe’s certificate of candidacy for president, granting the temporary restraining orders (TROs) requested by the senator.

Oral arguments on Poe’s petitions were also set for January 19, 2016 at 2 pm.

LEGAL BATTLE. Senator Grace Poe thanks the Supreme Court for issuing the temporary restraining orders against the Comelec. Photo by Jansen Romero/Rappler

LEGAL BATTLE. Senator Grace Poe thanks the Supreme Court for issuing the temporary restraining orders against the Comelec.

Photo by Jansen Romero/Rappler

'Renewed hope'

A more relaxed Poe faced the media on Tuesday afternoon, thanking the high court.

Ibinigay po namin ang aming buong tiwala sa institusyon ng Korte Suprema, at buong puso po kaming nagpapasalamat kay Punong Hukom Lourdes Sereno, pati na rin sina Justice Mariano del Castillo at Justice Marvic Leonen, dahil binigyan nila ng puwang ang katotohanan, pinagtanggol ang karapatan ng maliliit, at pinigilan ang ‘di makatuwirang panggigipit,” said Poe.

(We gave our full trust in the Supreme Court, and I whole-heartedly thank Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno as well as Justice Mariano del Castillo and Justice Marvic Leonen because they shed light on the truth, defended the rights of the marginalized, and stopped this unjust treatment.)

Poe added that the Comelec’s ruling to bar her candidacy saddened her, especially since the majority decision was released near Christmas. 

Ngunit pinanumbalik po ng Korte Suprema ang ating pag-asa, na siyang tunay na kahulugan ng Kapaskuhan (But the Supreme Court made me hope again, which is the true meaning of Christmas),” said the senator. 

Lawyer: SC will prioritize Poe

Poe’s lawyer George Garcia expressed confidence that the high court would give importance to the cases of his client as well.

Kahapon po, lahat po tayo ay nagulat. Akala nga po natin, kung sakaling suwertehin tayo, na kaninang umaga lang [mabibigay] ang TRO,” said Garcia.

(Yesterday, we were surprised. We thought that if we would be lucky, the TROs would be issued early this morning.)

Naniniwala po ako because this is a case of transcendental importance, bibigyan po ito ng prayoridad ng Korte Suprema,” he added.

(I believe that because this is a case of transcendental importance, the Supreme Court would make this a priority.) – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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