Monday, March 14, 2016

The confusing way the SC voted on Grace Poe's citizenship

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In his dissenting opinion, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said the question on whether Poe is a natural-born citizen was not resolved by the majority.

He noted that the voting on the citizenship stood at 7 in favor, 5 against, and 3 without expressing any opinion, meaning no majority of the en banc was reached as provided under the tribunal rules.

The seven were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin, Jose Perez, Jose Mendoza, Presbitero Velasco Jr., Francis Jardeleza and Marvic Leonen.

Two magistrates – Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta and Benjamin Caguioa – joined the separate dissenting opinion of Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo, the original ponente of the case, that the high court should not rule on the citizenship issue on this case.

Carpio was joined by four other magistrates – Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Arturo Brion, Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Bienvenido Reyes – in his dissenting opinion that Poe is not a natural-born Filipino and also lacks the residency requirement.

Carpio explained that despite the 9-6 ruling allowing Poe to run, “there is no majority of this Court that holds that petitioner Mary Grace Natividad Poe Llamanzares is a natural-born Filipino citizen.”

Carpio said that under the tribunal’s Internal Rules, particularly Rule 12, Section 1, it 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 or issues involved and voted on them.”

He added that in a case where all 15 magistrates voted, at least eight votes were needed to achieve a majority ruling.

Spurred by Carpio’s opinion, former senator Francisco Tatad, one of the petitioners against Poe, said he will ask the justices to revisit their decision.

“We were made to believe that there were nine votes in favor of Grace Poe’s so-called ‘Filipino citizenship.’ ‘Yun pala, walang nine votes, kundi seven votes, which is less than the majority so there is no ruling of the court. Simple majority of 15 is eight, not seven,” Tatad said in a press conference last Saturday.

Tatad’s lawyer, Manuelito Luna, said they will file a motion for reconsideration of the SC’s ruling on Tuesday. 

Carpio’s opinion differed with that of Sereno, who said there was majority on Poe’s citizenship because only 12 of the 15 magistrates voted on that particular issue.

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