SET junks disqualification case vs Poe

(UPDATED) PRESIDENTIAL aspirant Grace Poe is staying on as senator.

Voting 5-4, the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) dismissed Tuesday the disqualification case filed against Poe by defeated 2013 senatorial candidate Rizalito David.

The voting of the nine-member SET was held at the Manila Polo Club in Makati City.

David said that he will appeal the ruling before the Supreme Court.

"I will ask the SC to rule on this case with finality," he said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

Among those who voted in favor of dismissing the petition were Senators Vicente Sotto III, Pia Cayetano, Cynthia Villar, Loren Legarda and Paolo Benigno Aquino IV.

The four who dissented were SET chairperson Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and Associate Justice Arturo Brion and Senator Nancy Binay.

David considers the decision as a "moral victory" since the three members of SET who are Associate Justices of the SC ruled in his favor.

"It's confirmed by how the SC justices voted, they know their law and these people voted in my favor," he said.

On the other hand, David felt sorry for the five senators who voted to deny his petition.

"It's a pity that our senators failed to rise above their political nature. The issue placed before them was constitutional and legal and yet they voted along political lines," he said.

"Clearly, political accommodation lang 'yung sa mga senators," he further said.

Binay, the only SET member from the Senate who voted to grant the petition, said her vote was not tainted with politics.

The senator's father, presidential aspirant Vice President Jejomar Binay, is one of Poe's closest rivals in the presidential surveys.

"This case is not about my father or the presidential elections; this is about the provisions of the Constitution which each and every Filipino must uphold," Binay said in a statement.

"As a senator of the country who was elected and entrusted by the Filipino people to uphold the law, I must make a decision based on the provisions of the Constitution. More than anyone else, a senator of the land must respect the Constitution," she added.

In his petition, David claimed that Poe committed an election offense for claiming that she is a natural-born Filipino and had met the residency requirement when she ran in the 2013 midterm elections.

In her Facebook post, Poe thanked the SET for being "impartial" in voting in favor of dismissing the disqualification petition.

"Their decision sends a strong message that the Philippines considers itself part of the global community that respects international law. More importantly, their affirmation of my natural-born status upholds the rights of all foundlings in the country to the entitlements, services, and protections they deserve as full citizens of the country," Poe said.

Poe also thanked her supporters for continuously trusting her despite issues hurled against her.

She reiterated that she would continue fighting for what is right for the country and performing her job well as senator.

"Even when I am a neophyte in Senate, I do my job well. Even when I clash with powerful officials, I unfold the truth," Poe said in a speech she delivered in Laguna.

"I am confident that what I am fighting for should continue because the battle has yet to come. We are fighting for the rights of every one to live with honor, to orderly live in the country," she added.

Previously, four petitioners have filed disqualification petitions before the Commission on Elections seeking to prevent Poe from joining the 2016 presidential elections. All four petitions tackle Poe's citizenship and residency issues. (Sunnex)
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