SC seems to be having a hard time deciding on the disqualification case of Presidential candidate Grace Poe. Aside from the factual and legal considerations, SC has to weigh two opposing forces, the public which is throwing its support to Grace Poe (who is leading the surveys) or to uphold the rule of law and the existing doctrines laid down by the Supreme Court itself.
If SC decides to rule in-favor of Poe’s disqualification, I could only imagine the possible public actions by her loyal supporters. There will be chaos on the streets, and expect horrendous traffic. On the other hand, ruling in favour of Poe will have serious legal implications, this will ultimately mean SC has reversed or over turned the existing jurisprudence that is renunciation of a foreign citizenship is not a mere lip service, and that public documents enjoy presumption of regularity and a person’s declarations in a public document are binding upon the declarant and is stopped from questioning the same.
The requirement that the renunciation must be made through an oath emphasizes the solemn duty of the one making the oath of renunciation to remain true to what he has sworn to. Allowing the subsequent use of a foreign passport because it is convenient for the person to do so is rendering the oath a hollow act. It devalues the act of taking of an oath, reducing it to a mere ceremonial formality (Maquiling vs. Comelec)
If the SC would rule that the subsequent use of US Passport by Grace Poe is compatible with her renunciation made previously would lead to the door of bastardization of our laws. Not only by those politicians wishing to run for public office but by everyone-renunciation will be reduced to merely a non-sense ceremonial act without any material meaning at all.
As to the issue of declaration in a public document, to agree that the claim with regard to her residency period made on her certificate of candidacy when she ran for senator, is a matter of honest mistake, then everybody can now easy make an excuse that an erroneous declaration, or wilful misdeclaration was made in honest mistake- this simply means perjury is almost inapplicable. The question would be what would be the measure of an honest mistake?
But while the Supreme Court may be caught between two strong forces-they are no less than the Supreme Court who has the last say on what the law is. SC can always get a good excuse/exit by making an exception.
Now for those who would say let the election decide if she is qualified or not, leave the decision to the people. My simple answer is, what then is the use of our laws, then let’s leave everything to the people’s decision…
Who should prevail, the millions of Filipinos supporting Grace Poe or the rule of law? The Supreme Court in the case of Miranda vs. Abaya has answered this question eloquently; “The Court cannot accede to the reasoning that this Court should now acquiesce and submit to the sovereign will of the electorate, as expressed by their votes. We should always be reminded that ours is a government of laws not of men. If this Court should fold its arms and refuse to apply the law at every clamor of the majority of the supposed constituency, where shall order and justice lie? Without the least intention to degrade, where shall people power end, and where shall law and justice begin? Would the apparent results of the canvassing of votes justify this Court in refusing to apply the law instead? The answers to the foregoing are obvious. The Court cannot choose otherwise but to exercise its sacred duty to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the Republic for and under which it exists.”