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Guanzon, Lim to argue Comelec case before SC

With the Solicitor General unable to represent them, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc has assigned Commissioners Rowena Guanzon and Arthur Lim to defend the poll body’s decision to nullify the certificate of candidacy (COC) of Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares for president before the Supreme Court (SC).

Guanzon and Lim are members of the First and Second Divisions of the Comelec, respectively.

Guanzon - Lim

Guanzon – Lim

“The en banc of the Commission on Election decided to assign me and Commissioner Arthur Lim for the oral arguments,” Guanzon said.

The Comelec en banc upheld on Dec. 23, 2015 the decision of the two poll divisions to disqualify Poe over “material misrepresentation” in her COC, where she claimed to be a natural-born Filipino citizen despite being a foundling.

“Unless Petitioner can show that a foundling with no known parentage or definitive blood relationship is an exception to the requirement of jus sanguinis, her claim that she is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines does not stand,” said the Comelec.

“The provision of the 1935 Constitution is clear. The letter of the law is unmistakable. And it is settled in our legal system that where the law is clear and unambiguous, there is no room for construction, only application,” it added.

The Comelec also said despite Poe’s reliance on international law to defend her citizenship, “there is nothing however in international law which vests upon and commits to Petitioner the status of a natural-born Filipino citizen.”

The disqualification cases, where filed by lawyer Estrella Elamparo, former Sen. Francisco Tatad, political science professor Antonio Contreras, and former University of the East Law dean Amado Valdez.

NO INTENTIONAL DELAY

Meanwhile, Gaunzon denied speculations the Comelec en banc intentionally delayed the promulgation of its decision on the four cases last month so it will fall a day before the long Christmas holiday break.

The poll official said their ruling was supposed to be released as early as Dec. 18 but they were forced to postpone the release because some members of the en banc have not yet completed their position paper.

Guanzon said the Comelec en banc has been rushing to resolve the cases since prolonging these would be disadvantageous for all the concerned parties.

“The longer it was taking, the more the risks it posed for the commissioners and the more anxious the public was getting, so it was just fair to all concerned – to the petitioners and the respondents – that those cases were resolved as they were resolved. We don’t delay in resolving cases,” Guanzon said.

“The real fight for them is not here in Comelec, but in the Supreme Court, which is the final arbiter,” she added.

ABUSE OF DISCRETION

On Thursday, Guanzon asked the SC to junk the twin petitions of Poe assailing the poll body’s decision disqualifying her from the 2016 presidential elections.

The Comelec said it is only performing its mandate to protect the public from political anarchy.

In its 83-page comment, the Comelec refuted the allegations of Poe that it committed grave abuse of discretion in upholding the two resolutions of its division canceling her COC for president in the 2016 presidential polls.

“How can Comelec be then considered to have capriciously and whimsically exercised its discretion, when its decision was arrived at with due regard to its rules, after hearing, with full appreciation of the pieces of evidence present, and after a thorough study of the pertinent laws and jurisprudence?” the Comelec said.

INDEPENDENT FROM SET

On the issue that the poll ignored the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) ruling on Poe’s citizenship, the Comelec argued that the case filed against Poe before the SET, which voted in her favor, and the one filed against her before the Comelec are independent of each other.

“The ruling of the SET however with respect to her citizenship does not negate and overturn, nor preclude, the finding made by the Comelec that Petitioner is not a natural-born Filipino,” the Comelec said, stressing that it is constitutionally independent and separate from the SET.

“The decision of the SET does not bind the Comelec. It is not a legal precedent. The SET ruling cannot circumvent nor does it preclude the Comelec from making a contrary conclusion based on applicable law and jurisprudence,” it added. (With a report from Leonard D. Postrado)

  • Gisingbayanko

    The SC will uphold the rule of law overruling SET’s political decision consistent with Comelec’s en banc decision.

  • tadane

    yan na ang mga sugo ng administrasyon, hindi talaga magpapatalo!

  • justine2015

    Good luck defending their wrong decision. Let’s see how they’re going to justify how they went against prevailing doctrines.

    • beautilicious

      what doctrines? please explain