Philippine Sen. Grace Poe, the front-runner in next year's presidential election, said on Friday she would go to the Supreme Court after the country's election commission disqualified her for the second time in as many weeks. While the details of the ruling aren't out yet, it was on three cases that questioned her nationality and whether she fulfilled residency requirements.
"I assure you that I am still a candidate for president," local news website InterAksyon.com quoted Poe as saying.
Friday's ruling was issued by one of the two divisions of the Commission on Elections a week after the other division last week ruled that she didn't fulfill the constitution's requirements that a president be a natural-born citizen and a Philippine resident for 10 years. Poe's nationality is under question because she was adopted as a baby and the identity of her biological parents is not known. She also took U.S. citizenship from 2001 to 2006. While she says she returned to the country in 2005, her residency is disputed for several reasons, including how she answered the residency question in documents she filed to run for senator in 2013. She says her answer then was an "honest mistake."
While Poe can appeal to the full Commission on Elections, the attempt may be futile because its two divisions have already ruled against her. She may also be handicapped in the 15-member Supreme Court. Three of its justices were part of a special tribunal that last month ruled 5-to-4 in Poe's favor in the nationality issue. However, all three justices were part of the four that ruled against her. While they are expected to inhibit themselves if the special tribunal's ruling is brought to the court because they were part of the tribunal, it is not clear whether they would do so if the commission's rulings are appealed.
Poe was favored by 39 percent of respondents in the most recent survey of one of the two most-followed pollsters in the country. That compares with 24 percent for Vice President Jojo Binay and 21 percent for former interior secretary Mar Roxas, President Benigno Aquino's candidate. Aquino is barred from seeking a second term in the elections in May. Rodrigo Duterte, mayor of the southern city of Davao, officially filed his candidacy this week and reportedly has strong support in the south and in Manila.