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SC urged to resolve Poe cases with dispatch

18 February 2016 No CommentEmail This Post Email This Post
Senator Grace Poe (MNS photo)

Senator Grace Poe (MNS photo)

MANILA  (Mabuhay) – With the conclusion of the oral arguments on Tuesday, the Supreme Court should resolve immediately Sen. Grace Poe’s plea challenging her disqualification from the May 2016 presidential elections.

This was according to legal experts on Wednesday, who also said that should the high court uphold Poe’s disqualification by the Commission on Elections late in the campaign period, the votes she would be getting would be wasted.

Election lawyers Edgardo Carlo Vistan II and Romulo Macalintal, and former Integrated Bar of the Philippines national president Vicente Joyas all agreed that the high tribunal should already decide on Poe’s two petitions.

Vistan said in the event Poe’s disqualification is upheld by the SC but voters still end up voting for her in the May polls, those votes “cannot be credited to her as they would be considered stray votes.”

Since January 19, the high tribunal conducted a total of five rounds of oral arguments on the Poe cases.

“It is important that the Supreme Court resolve the disqualification cases against Sen. Grace Poe expeditiously,” said Vistan, adding that just because the Comelec had already started printing the 57 million ballots does not make the resolution of the Poe cases less urgent.

“Even if the ballots would be printed already with Sen. Poe’s name as one of the presidential candidates, there is still an urgent need for a speedy resolution of the case so that the Comelec can make appropriate adjustments to the automated vote counting and canvassing protocols or procedures in case Sen. Poe is disqualified,” he said.

Like Vistan, Macalintal also said votes cast for Poe would be rendered worthless if the SC upholds her disqualification.

“It will be considered stray votes. Hindi bibilangin iyong [boto kay Poe]. At kahit siya pa ang makakuha ng pinakamaraming boto, balewala iyon. Ang ipo-proclaim ay ang susunod na nakakuha ng pinakamaraming boto,” said Macalintal.

The election lawyer lamented how the high court does not seem to be treating the Poe cases with urgency.

“Kahit noon pa, sinasabi ko na na dapat na-resolba na ito ng Korte Suprema. Dapat ipinapakita ng SC ang urgency. Eh ang lumalabas sa SC, parang hindi urgent,” said Macalintal.

Both Vistan and Macalintal agreed that the SC could have resolved the cases earlier had it conducted oral arguments more often than just once a week.

Vistan said even if the oral arguments lasted six or seven rounds, the SC could still decide on the case much earlier if it had held oral arguments “twice or three times a week.”

Macalintal, meanwhile, even wanted oral arguments to be held daily.

“With due respect to the high court, dapat maging araw-araw ang oral arguments and dapat hindi na dapat ganoon katagal kasi hindi naman contested ang facts ng case. Alam na nila ang nangyari. Si Sen. Grace Poe, sa residency, naglagay na siya ng statement [sa COC]. Walang problema sa facts of the case,” said Macalintal.

He said all that is being debated in the oral arguments are not questions of facts but legal issues which all involve questions of law.

The election lawyer went as far as to declare: “I don’t think kailangan pa nga nila mag-hold ng oral arguments dito eh,” adding that he thinks the case could be decided right away based solely on the pleadings and comments submitted.

Joyas also agreed “it is important to resolve the cases of Sen. Poe with dispatch.”

The former IBP head however said the high tribunal must also be given “reasonable time to hear and decide the cases because of the significant issues involved.”

The legal experts’ call for the resolution of the cases came just a week after Congress leaders Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr  made the same appeal to the SC.

“I can’t understand why they are taking so long to decide on it. They have to make a decision as soon as possible. Let’s not drag this. If they have to drop everything, then concentrate on it,” Belmonte said in a television interview.

Drilon said the SC appeared to have “no sense of urgency.”

“This is not an ordinary case. It will have a vast impact on our future. Having oral arguments once a week, that is not giving it the urgency it deserves. I’m not dictating on the court, but it is very frustrating because we know for certain that the court could hasten the process by conducting marathon hearings,” Drilon said. (MNS)

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