The oral arguments in the Supreme Court today on the Grace Poe proceeding will be continued next Tuesday Jan. 26, according to news reports, with petitioner Grace Poe’s counsel still on the podium, the “interpellation” to continue next week. After this, the other parties — respondent Comelec, the private respondents, plus the Solicitor General in an “invited capacity” representing the State, will each deliver an opening statement, to be followed by “interpellation”. (scroll below the music pod for discussion)
[now playing: ode to The Eagles founder, guitarist, songwriter Glenn Frey, 1949-2016 (“Hotel California”, “Desperado”, “New Kid in Town” etc., pls click the music pod below if it’s no longer on autoplay]:
The TRO against the Comelec ruling is not lifted. This means the Comelec is still enjoined or temporarily “prohibited” from enforcing its order of cancelling her certificate of candidacy. The pendency of the TRO gives the Supreme Court justices enough time to carefully consider the constitutional and legal issues involved in the proceeding in a manner that does not rush them and that obviates emotional stress from time constraints. Besides, based on decades of experience, the usual and standard practice in the Comelec is to retain the name of a candidate — as confirmed by Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez’s previous interviews last month (but apparently, he has been stopped from giving such statements).
The issues in the proceeding are outlined in a logical manner: first, jurisdiction; then, whether there had been grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction; then, the substantive issues of citizenship and residency, with sub-issues such as burden of proof.
Jurisdictional issues have to be passed upon before the substantive issues are traversed. A layperson may ask: Why? Why not go straight to the citizenship issue? Because the relevance or necessity of traversing the substantive issues will depend on how the jurisdictional issues are resolved, i.e., the Supreme Court will not pass upon moot issues (unless there’s a compelling reason to do so). In other words:
1) If the Comelec has/, or had, jurisdiction, the issue of grave abuse becomes relevant.
2) If the Comelec did not have jurisdiction in the first place, then the succeeding issue of grave abuse is irrelevant or useless, since there was never any jurisdiction to abuse.
Jurisdiction is defined as the power to hear and decide a case filed before it. Does the Comelec have jurisdiction on the petition to cancel the certificate of candidacy of Sen. Grace Poe? Apparently, they have jurisdiction to pass upon such issues. Did they abuse it?
So, jurisdiction — that’s number one on the checklist. Check.
We move on to the next issue.
Did they abuse that discretion gravely and seriously when they cancelled her certificate of candidacy, particularly when they ruled that she committed an intentional misrepresentation?
1)If the answer is: Yes, they gravely abused their discretion — then the Supreme Court will proceed with traversing the substantive issues. The Supreme Court will then move on to traverse the citizenship issues and the residency issues. Then, there will be a discussion.
First: Burden-of-proof issues: Is the burden of proof loaded upon and shouldered by the foundling —
“you, foundling, you go look for your mother or father, you look for them in a haystack we don’t care — until then, you have no right to be here before us.”
That is the logic of burden-of-proof on the foundling, ladies and gentleman. (i’m just laymanizing it here): “Ikaw, ampon/ pulot, umalis ka rito, hanapin mo ang nagpanganak sa iyo kung saan mang lupalop wala kaming pakialam, hindi ka pwedeng humarap dito hangga’t di mo mapatunayan kung sino ang nagpanganak sa iyo.“ (Filipino translation; i’m laymanizing it).
Or… is the burden of proof laid upon the shoulder of the party who is questioning the status of a foundling who, in this case, had been elected senator and accepted/ admitted by the State, when she filed her senatorial certificate of candidacy and when she was sworn as senator by the State, as a natural born citizen? There it is — that is the logic of the party who first filed the SET case ahead of the others. He saw it — he needed to set aside those existing documents that show the State had accepted her as natural born. I’m using the word “accepted”/ “admitted” by the State as natural born, and not the word “recognized” by the State or “accorded by the State” the status of natural born, because i’m being careful and making an effort to be fair to all parties — although the word “accepted”/ “admitted” by the State is not used in citizenship proceedings; but used in evidentiary proceedings. But there you go: we’re talking about burden of proof — what is the present state of evidence? In whose favor does it tilt? What is the present state of affairs as far as extant documents, existing evidence, and sociological knowledge are concerned —- in whose favor does it preponderate, and who has the burden of proof? This can go either way, and perhaps those assailing the petitioner’s status have evidence to nullify all existing documents that preponderate in her favor.
(While at the same time, some quarters have observed that she lacks the administrative, organizational, and political experience to be Commander-in-Chief while the rest of the candidates have issues of corruption, incompetence, abuse of power, ranged against them)
Second, and after the burden-of-proof issue is resolved, then we move on to the substantive issues: citizenship and residency issues. To be more substantive about it, beyond the 1935 Constitution (the framers of the Constitution– the 1935, 1973, and 1987 — did not put in details such as the particular citizenship status of foundlings, leaving that to existing knowledge, ordinary experience, sociological probabilities, and common sense), beyond the absence of express provisions, or because of the absence of express provisions, we move on to the issue of: Whether or not foundlings, like all other persons, enjoy civil and political rights. When a group of persons, as a group, or because of their circumstance of birth, are deprived of civil and political rights, you tread on international covenants on civil and political rights; that is to say, you tread on hallowed ground.
(i put “international covenants on civil and political rights” in small letters to mean not just formal conventions but all known laws and the entire jus cogens that can be summoned — we have to be better than “nothing is written in the Constitution, we don’t know what the rights of foundlings are, therefore they have none”. ). That is to say, in the absence of express constitutional provisions, where you deny a person civil and political rights by reason of circumstance of birth, you are treading on sacred ground: international covenants on civil and political rights — the Church upon which our civilization is built.
You would want to see how Supreme Court justices of this millennium tread upon the foundation of all known social and human development.
BUT… because i want to entertain you as well, let us also traverse the other ground and build scenarios based on it:
2)If the answer is: No, there was no grave abuse of discretion… then, the TRO against the Comelec would be lifted, the petition would be dismissed, the substantive issues need not be passed upon, with the SC deferring to the exercise of discretion by the Comelec, and she would be a non-candidate.
But by this time, the ballots would have been printed, they would contain her name, as is the usual, standard Comelec practice. If the ballots contain her name, the votes would be considered as “stray votes”. The vote would be called out, not as “Grace Poe” but as: “stray vote”…
“stray vote”… “stray dog, er, este, stray vote” … “where’s the pollwatcher of “stray vote”? they need to sign here…”
There’s going to be a box there marked as “stray votes”. There is a chance that we would land in the Guinness Book of World Records: The candidate “stray votes” garners a plurality — President-elect Stray Votes would have to wear a jusi Filipiniana design at noontime June 30, 2016.
Care Bears — to borrow presidential sister Kris Aquino’s term (for “i don’t care”) — care bears, basta panalo.