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POE ROXAS BINAYWith defeat staring its presidential candidate in the eye, the ruling Liberal Party (LP) is resorting to dirty tactics to bar top contenders Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senator Grace Poe from running in the 2016 derby.

Unmasking the plot, Harry Roque, former University of the Philippines law professor and  party-list senatorial candidate, described the LP tactic as “legal coup d’etat” to be carried out in cahoots with LP allies in the Supreme Court, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Senate.

 Roque said the bottom line of the plot would have Binay jailed and Poe disqualified.

The LP bet, Mar Roxas, former Interior secretary of President Benigno Aquino, is faring badly in pre-poll surveys against front-runners Binay and Poe.

In a statement, Roque warned against the LP using its position in power “to use its influence” in the courts, Comelec and the Senate “to secure what it cannot win for its candidate.”

“The irony of this ‘legal coup d’etat’ is that it is happening under the watch of President Aquino, the son of two icons of democracy,” said Roque.

Roque, a Kabayan (Kabalikat ng Mamamayan) Party-List nominee, said the LP dirty plot is already being talked about in the legal circle.

There are rumblings in the legal community that Roxas has tapped Sen. Franklin Drilon and lawyers associated with The Firm, or the defunct CVC Law, to ensure that Poe is disqualified from the race by virtue of her questioned citizenship and Binay is jailed for alleged corruption, said Roque.

The final scenario of the LP plot, with Binay in jail and Poe disqualified, would have Roxas fighting a one-on-one battle with Senator Miriam Santiago.

With Roxas facing sure defeat, Roque said that the only option left for the LP is to lead a “legal coup d’etat” that would involve the elimination of Roxas’ rivals.

“The public should be vigilant and closely watch the allies of the administration in the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), the Comelec, and the Supreme Court, because if we lower our guard, their decisions will not be guided by the rule of law, but by the nation’s current rulers,” he warned.

The LP plot was first reported by the Manila Times which quoted “reliable sources.”

In a report published earlier,  the Manila Times said its sources claimed that “former associates of the powerful law firm (The Firm mentioned by Roque) “are working with their contacts in various agencies to implement the plot,” which would be an easy “power grab.”

The paper firther reported: “The Firm is a term used to refer to CVC Law, which was founded by SC Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio. One of his former partners, Avelino Cruz, is a staunch Roxas ally and was part of Aquino’s legal team in 2010.”

Roxas and Drilon pushed for the appointment of Cruz’s fraternity brothers in the Comelec — Commissioners Al Parreño and Arthur Lim, said the Manila Times in the report.

Drilon, Carpio, Cruz, Parreño, and Lim are all members of the Sigma Rho Fraternity of the UP College of Law, the report added.

Roque said the “legal coup d’etat’ that would steal the presidency for Roxas is worse that the ‘coups’ of the past.

“During the time of President Cory, the threats to democracy were the coups launched left and right by rogue elements of the Armed Forces. Now a similar coup is underway, right under our noses. But this time, it’s generals wear barong tagalogs and its soldiers are armed with petitions and pleadings,” said Roque.

God save our democracy. No blood will be spilled in this coup, but it will lead to the death of democracy and the denial of one of the most basic rights of our people: the right to choose our leaders, Roque said.