The COMELEC did not disqualify Sen. Grace Poe to run for president in the May 2016 elections. Let’s make no mistake about that. Certainly, the Commission does not have the power or authority to rule on matters relating to the qualifications of candidates for membership to the House of Representatives, the Senate, and for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency. The present Constitution vests this authority to the respective Electoral Tribunals, i.e., the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal [HRET], the Senate Electoral Tribunal [SET], and the Presidential Electoral Tribunal [PET].
Verily, the cases that were filed against Sen. Poe in relation to her candidacy before the COMELEC were not meant to have disqualified to run for president. In stead, said cases [which includes one that was filed by lady lawyer Estrella Elamparo] were aimed for the cancellation of the Certificate of Candidacy [COC] for president that the good senator had filed with the Commission. Accordingly, in the decretal of its Decision, which is now pending review by the Supreme Court, the COMELEC did rule on whether or not Sen. Poe is qualified as presidential candidate, it simply CANCELLED the COC for presidency that she filed, after she was found to have committed material misrepresentation in the subject COC.
To the average citizen, this may not mean a lot. After all, whether she was DISQUALIFIED or that her Certificate of Candidacy was simply CANCELLED, the end effect will just be the same = Poe will not be president [That is, of course, assuming that the COMELEC’s ruling will be sustained]. There is a difference, however, that can have far-reaching and profound repercussions in the Philippine political environment.
For example, if Senator Poe is later declared DISQUALIFIED [or as having failed to qualify] to run as president [On a matter of procedure, this this can happen only after the conduct of the presidential elections, with Poe obtaining the highest number of votes. More discussion on this in a separate article], it will be the Vice-President-elect who shall act as president until the President-elect shall have qualified. On the other hand, if the COMELEC’s decision to CANCEL Poe’s COC is sustained with finality by the Supreme Court, it will mean as if she had never ran for president at all, and all the votes she obtained will be considered as stray or invalid as having been made in favor of a non-candidate. Now, if this happens, and if Poe gets the highest number of votes, the candidate with the next highest number shall be declared as the President-elect.
But that’s just it, nothing more than a speculation about things that are yet to come. For the time being, no petition to question Poe’s qualifications can yet be validly filed before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, and the Supreme Court has yet to decide on the COMELEC’s canceling of Poe’s COC. So, why all these discussions? Well, just for the heck of it. 🙂