POSTSCRIPT / March 15, 2016 / Tuesday


Opinion Columnist

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CJ must show tally of votes on 2 issues

CHIEF Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno can quell the tempest building up over the Supreme Court decision allowing Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares to run for president by producing a tally of how the 15 justices voted on each of the two disqualification issues raised against the senator.

The simple arithmetic of what comprises a majority of 15 justices, voting separately on the issues of Citizenship and Residency, should be clear and convincing enough even for lawyers.

As early as in grade school, most of us learned that the majority of 15 is a minimum of 8. So let the Chief Justice produce the eight votes affirming separately Poe’s natural-born citizenship and her 10-year residency, and thereby put the mathematical question to rest.

Even Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio — who kicked up a storm with his revelation that the vote on Poe’s citizenship was not 9-6 as announced but 7-5-3 (or lacking one vote for a majority decision) — should keep his peace if the official SC tally shows 8 or more votes.

But then, in a chamber populated by the country’s top lawyers, the justices may have their own unique way of determining what a “majority vote” is on a given legal question.

Poe could be disqualified from running in May if she fails in either or both citizenship and residency issues. If she is knocked out on even just one issue, goodbye Malacañang this time for this Filipino-turned-American-turned-Filipino.

But if she finally wins on both counts, she could be the candidate leading the chase all the way to May 9.

Poe’s bandwagon starts to roll

EVEN NOW, Poe’s bandwagon has started to roll, if the latest Social Weather Stations presidential preference survey conducted March 4-7 is any indication.

The survey, held after the initial presidential debate nationally televised last Feb. 21 from Cagayan de Oro, showed Poe pulling ahead with 27 percent, gaining three percentage points from her 24 percent in the previous survey.

Vice President Jojo Binay, erstwhile survey leader, lost five percentage points from 29 percent to 24 percent. Given the ±2-point sampling error margin, Binay is statistically tied with administration-Liberal Party candidate Mar Roxas.

Gaining the most ground, Roxas is preferred by 22 percent of the voters, a four-point improvement from his previous 18 percent.

Roxas and Poe were widely seen as having performed comparatively well in the February debate. Their showing is believed by many as having contributed to their gains in the last SWS survey (face-to-face interviews) involving 1,800 validated voters.

In the same survey, Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte lost three percentage points from 24 percent to 21 percent. Tailender Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago retained her four percent share in the previous survey.

Poe is expected to gain more supporters as a result of the favorable Supreme Court decision, although now being questioned, allowing her as a foundling to run despite citizenship challenges to her being a natural-born Filipino.

Carpio dissent may reopen DQ case

DECLARING there was actually no majority decision upholding Poe’s qualification, Carpio said in his 55-page dissenting opinion that the SC vote on the issue of citizenship was 7-5-3, not 9-6 as Sereno had announced.

Rule 12, Section 1, of the SC Internal Rules requires that all decisions and actions in court cases “shall be made up upon the concurrence of the majority of the Members of the Court who actually took part in the deliberation on the issues involved and voted on them.”

Carpio was quoted as saying: “What is clear and undeniable is that there is no majority of this Court that holds that petitioner Mary Grace Natividad Poe Llamanzares is a natural-born Filipino citizen.”

Manuelito Luna, lawyer of former Sen. Francisco S. Tatad who is one of four petitioners seeking Poe’s disqualification, is expected to use Carpio’s dissent if they decide to move for a reconsideration of the SC decision.

Luna said: “Only seven justices, or less than the majority of the SC, voted to declare Poe presumptively natural-born. It binds no one; it cannot become part of the law of the land or jurisprudence.”

But in the unlikely (our opinion) event that Carpio’s view will be accepted by Sereno and the majority , there might be no more need for Tatad and the other petitioners to bother with moving for reconsideration.

Questioning the reported 9-6 vote, Carpio said only seven of the nine justices in the majority ruling opined that foundlings like Poe are deemed natural-born citizens. He identified the seven as Sereno and associate justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Lucas Bersamin, Jose Perez, Jose Mendoza, Marvic Leonen and Francis Jardeleza.

Carpio noted that while Bersamin and Mendoza concurred with the majority ruling, they did not qualify their concurrence as to whether they also agree with the findings on Poe’s citizenship and residency eligibilities.

3rd Clark Golf Cup blasts off April 1

EVERYTHING is in readiness for the Third Clark Golf Cup that blasts off on April 1, the Friday after Holy Week, at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga. The open tournament is an annual project of the Capampangan in Media Inc. (CAMI) in cooperation with the Clark Development Corp.

CAMI Vice President Ashley Manabat, the Tournament Director, said this summer’s games will be played at the posh Royal Garden Golf and Country Club course beautifully laid out beside the Clark circumferential road. She can be contacted for more details at and at +63918-9854369.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 15, 2016)

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