MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will decide the fate of the candidacies of former President Joseph Estrada and President Gloria Arroyo after December 28.
The Second Division of the poll body, composed of Commissioners Nicodemo Ferrer, Elias Yusoph and Lucenito Tagle, has set December 28 as the deadline for submission of the memoranda of the parties in the petitions to disqualify Estrada and Arroyo.
The Comelec heard on Tuesday 3 disqualification cases filed against Estrada and 1 disqualification case against Arroyo.
Two separate petitions were filed by Ely Pamatong and Mary Lou Estrada. Both of them were among the presidential aspirants excluded by the Comelec from its final list of presidential candidates. The other disqualification case was filed by lawyer Evillio Pormento.
Estrada’s candidacy has been questioned because of a provision in the 1987 Constitution that bars the president from seeking re-election. His camp, however, claims that the rule applies only to an incumbent president.
Estrada told reporters that he is optimistic that he would not be disqualified “We have a very strong case. Our lawyers are well-respected and are legal luminaries. They are very much qualified.”
Estrada was accompanied by former Senator Ernesto Maceda and lawyer Amado Valdez. Asked who would take his place in case he is disqualified, Estrada said: “I am not thinking about that.”
Meanwhile, the Comelec also heard the disqualification case filed against President Arroyo by Pamatong. Pamatong said Arroyo’s entry in the congressional race violates the Constitutional provision prohibiting the president from running for any re-election.
Romulo Macalintal, lawyer of President Arroyo, said that they are optimistic that the case will be dismissed. He said that there is no legal impediment to Arroyo’s decision to join the congressional race for the second district of Pampanga because the constitutional provision refers only re-election for the same position.
“We are expecting the Comelec to dismiss the petition without any arguments,” Macalintal told reporters. “We believe that this type of complaint should not clog the dockets of the Comelec because there are many other quality cases.”