Saturday, September 19, 2015

60. FPJ's legal roadmap for Sen. Grace Poe

In paragraph 59, I wrote that Sen. Grace Poe only needs to substantiate her allegations that she decided to re-establish her domicile to Manila after the death of her father, Fernando Poe, Jr. in December 2004. But my real concern is how the dispute can derail the election process. In Tecson v. Fornier (G. R. 161434 March 3, 2004), the Supreme Court decided Fernando Poe, Jr.'s disqualification case barely two months before the elections of May 2004. He filed his Certificate of Candidacy on December 31, 2003. Victorino Fornier and the other oppositors filed their Petition against him on January 9, 2004. In ten days, the COMELEC Third Division received the evidence and by January 13, 2004, the challenge was dismissed. Upon the filing of a Motion for Reconsideration, the COMELEC en banc dismissed the case with finality on February 6, 2004. The Petitioners brought their case to the Supreme Court on February 10, 2004. But the Supreme Court dismissed the Petition on March 3, 2004. That is exactly sixty-three (63) days from the filing of the Certificate of Candidacy by Fernando Poe, Jr. By the standards of the Philippine judicial system, that was very quick. It could not have happened if the COMELEC and the Supreme Court did not have the resolve to swiftly decide the matter of such great importance during those days. Yet, I can think of a hundred permutations that would have complicated everything, especially if Fernando Poe, Jr., did not lose in the counting. The COMELEC en banc could have reversed the Third Division and removed his name from the election returns, and he could have missed the voting altogether if the Supreme Court did not act. This is, of course, speculative but I mention it here, because I think the ideal scenario for Sen. Grace Poe is for the COMELEC and the Supreme Court to match the timelines and milestones of her dad's disqualification case. Based on the election calendar for the May 9, 2016 Elections, the filing of the Certificates of Candidacy shall be from October 12-16, 2015. Thus, Sen. Grace Poe has an additional seventy-six (76) days from the filing of the Certificate of Candidacy leading to January 1, 2016, after which the administrative tyranny of the looming May 9, 2016 elections would wreak havoc on her campaign. Yet, this is a different COMELEC and Supreme Court, and they are not bound by the timelines from the Fornier case. Accordingly, while I think the legal challenges to Sen. Grace Poe's candidacy have no merit as discussed in paragraphs 57, 58, and 59, there is still a danger that the legal process would be used to derail her run. Vigilance is the key. Her first test to the complex world of politics and law is how not to get disqualified by her enemies. Thanks to her dad, there is a roadmap.

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