3 SET members eye postponement of voting on Poe DQ case

Senator Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares waves to her supporters shortly after her speech declaring her candidacy for the presidential election in 2016, at the Bahay Alumni in U.P. Diliman on Wednesday. Poe, running as an independent, finally ended months of speculation on her political plans. (MNS photo)

Senator Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares waves to her supporters shortly after her speech declaring her candidacy for the presidential election in 2016, at the Bahay Alumni in U.P. Diliman on Wednesday. Poe, running as an independent, finally ended months of speculation on her political plans. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – At least three senator-members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) are mulling the rescheduling of its November 17 voting on the disqualification case against Senator Grace Poe.

Senator Loren Legarda said she may ask her colleagues to move the date of their voting as she would need more time to study the matter.

Legarda said at present, she is swamped with paperwork in connection with the proposed 2016 national budget, being the chairperson of the Senate finance committee.

“Ang daming trabaho sa budget,” Legarda told reporters. “Ako, ang point ko itong budget biglang dumating galing sa House [of Representatives]. Nag-aaral ako bilang chair ng budget at ang interpellations buong linggo. Hindi biro ang issue sa SET,  I’ll check kung pwedeng i-move para pag-aralan nang husto.”

The Senate received the House-approved proposed 2016 General Appropriations Act (GAA) on Monday.

In a separate interview, Deputy Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III, another SET member, said he supports the idea of moving the schedule, considering the work they need to do regarding the GAA.

“I don’t have enough time to pen my decision sa dami ng schedules namin, so I would support the idea of moving it probably a week or so after the budget,” he said.

“I see the point of Sen. Legarda, mahirap yung chairman ka ng committee on finance,” Sotto added.

He said it is important for the Senate to expedite its deliberation of the budget bill in order to pass it before the end of the year.

“Pinakaimportante ‘yung GAA. Yung decision sa SET nakakapaghintay ‘yun. Yung GAA hindi makakapaghintay. Madi-delay kaming lahat,” Sotto said.

Sotto said he is already writing his decision on Poe’s disqualification case, but he might not be able to finish it in time for Nov. 17.

“Because of the work here at the Senate right now, I am not ready and I don’t think the chairman of the committee on finance will be ready,” he said.

“One or two weeks maximum. Wala naman mawawala kung magdi-decide ng one or two weeks after ng APEC, baka first week of December puwede na ‘yun, wala nang problema,” he said.

Senator Cynthia Villar, another SET member, said she would agree with the rescheduling “kung meron naman silang valid reason.”

Villar said she is waiting for the briefer that would be distributed by the SET secretariat.

“I want to read the memo na ibibigay nila sa amin. Baka may nakikita sila na hindi namin nakikita,” she said.

Aside from Legarda, Sotto,and Villar, the other members of SET are Senators Bam Aquino, Pia Cayetano, and Nancy Binay, and Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, and Arturo Brion. The tribunal is headed by Carpio.

Poe is the subject of a disqualification case filed by Rizalito David before the SET on allegations that she is not a natural-born Filipino, a requirement for senators under the 1987 Constitution.  (MNS)

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