Wednesday, November 18, 2015

SET does a Pontius Pilate: paves way for Solomonic decision before Supreme Court

SET decision voted like Caesar did--the body washed it hands and threw the case to another body, which it believes to be more judicious than any other, even compared to itself. It looks like a victory, but I know for a fact that Mrs. Llamanzares' lawyers are now very, very nervous. Everyone expected the SET to rule that way because it is still peopled with members with political ties with the accused. The Supreme Court in the past already warned the SET for behaving in a political way and what this decision meant was the Tribunal again, did it.

Three justices and one Senator believed that Senator Grace Poe is not a natural-born Filipino citizen while five Senators—meaning, colleagues of Grace Poe—voted in her favor. The vote is expected. Why?

The case filed is a quo warranto case. Had the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) voted based on constitutional reasons, the decision would have adverse effects on the Senate because it would result to an automatic loss of one member which would affect voting and render the Upper House inutile. Major legislation like the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which this administration is pushing for, would be affected. This administration needs Poe’s vote.

That explains the vote—it was a vote to preserve the Senate ranks, and never about the core issue which is to resolve the contentious issue of Poe’s citizenship. So, it is too early for Poe and her supporters to celebrate because the vote and the decision meant nothing. It is still not part of the “law of the land”, and therefore, the Comelec cannot be quick to claim that the decision could affect the pending cases filed before the poll body on the disqualification cases against Poe.

However, the Comelec has what the law calls “ moto propio” powers which gave it the leeway to decide cases before it, in whatever way it deems proper. If the Comelec chooses to arbitrarily use the SET decision as a basis for dismissing these pending cases, then, it would actually be disastrous for Poe in the end because every single one of these cases would eventually go to the Supreme Court.

The fact is, even the petitioner in the SET case, Rizalito David already gave us an inkling of what he’ll do---he will not file an appeal before the SET and instead, go straight to the Supreme Court as a redress. So, the ball will now be thrown at the lap of the Justices of the Supreme Court who will now decide this issue the way it is supposed to be treated—based on law and the Constitution.

These disqualification cases filed against Poe are  "test cases." Why? It will test how resilient and how immune our Institutions are from the influence of Politics. Voting here does not follow political lines, as what I believe.

The thing going against the petitioners really is when the six Justices appointed by President Aquino vote not according to their legal interpretation but thru political accommodation. It could happen. However, I have full faith that in the end, this issue would be resolved based on the spirit of the law, and not the Spirit of partisanship.

Unknown to Poe and her supporters---a dark cloud has already been cast above her and it would be extremely difficult for her to exorcise this cloud even if she wins this presidency. The issue has stuck to her like glue. Her popularity is not enough to just make this issue go away. It will haunt her until voting day, and even beyond, if she wins.