Saturday, December 12, 2015

80. Why Grace Poe can still pull this off

It's not final until the Supreme Court rules. Two divisions and five of the seven Commissioners, as they voted in divisions, have ruled out Poe, but the COMELEC is not the ultimate arbiter of disqualification cases. It's the fifteen men and women who comprise the Supreme Court of the Philippines. Until the fifteen take a vote, Poe's cause for the presidency is not over. Poe's father took this path before, and the Supreme Court ruled in his favor on March 3, 2004, a good two months before the May elections of 2004. With the disqualification cases being appealed to the COMELEC en banc next week, all that Poe needs is for the COMELEC to act with dispatch so the matter can be brought before the Supreme Court at the soonest possible time. Poe's counsel George Garcia is still beaming with hope that the COMELEC en banc will reverse the two division rulings, and I have to hand it to him for being the optimist in this fight, thanks to his years walking in and out of the COMELEC hearing rooms and knowing how men and women trained in the law, logic, and deductive reasoning could change their minds. While the nation waits with bated breath, so to speak, these disqualification cases have been instructive in two things:  1. The status of foundlings is collateral damage. I refuse to believe that lawyers, commissioners, and justices would be as restrictive in their reading of the status of foundlings as natural born citizens if Grace Poe's candidacy is not on the line. Whatever happened to social justice?  Those who have less in life should have more in law?  Option for the poor? Let's put this all away, because Grace Poe should not become President? I have not known a more anomalous subversion of the spirit of the law in my career. 2. The repatriates are collateral damage too. I took particular note on the COMELEC Second Division ruling that those who are repatriated after obtaining foreign nationality lose their status as natural born citizens, save for those who serve in the US army. That means the repatriates too are disqualified for national government elective office. This has far reaching implications as many national government officials right now are repatriates, and I imagine many of repatriates are better qualified than most who are not but are in national government service. In other words, the COMELEC is disqualifying two whole subsets of Filipino citizens from the pool of possible national government officials. And this is all because they don't want Grace Poe. Dick Gordon once said, candidates don't lose elections. People do. The elections are still five months away, and I so very much want that the people do not lose this one. To the Supreme Court we go.

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