Solon claims Comelec decision on Bongbong Marcos’ case ‘not final’ photo CNN Philippines
Elections

Solon claims Comelec decision on Bongbong Marcos’ case ‘not final’

Jan 17, 2022, 10:12 AM
Rose De La Cruz

Rose De La Cruz

Columnist

“It will take weeks for the appeals and other remedies to be exhausted. Due process will run its course and it does not look like the finish line will be before election day.”

Following the Commission on Election (Comelec) 2nd Division’s dismissal of a disqualification case filed against presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., a Mindanao solon said such decisions could still be reconsidered or set aside.

“Decisions of the Commission on Elections divisions may be reconsidered, set aside, or reversed by the Commission en banc. From there, the decision may be appealed to the Supreme Court,” Agusan del Norte Representative Lawrence Fortun said Monday (January 17).

“That is the due process reality and it works both ways for either side of the legal battle. Apparently, what parties on either side agree on is that ultimately the voters will decide the issue through their ballots,” the solon added.
“It will take weeks for the appeals and other remedies to be exhausted. Due process will run its course and it does not look like the finish line will be before election day.”

The Comelec 2nd Division on Monday junked a petition filed by civic leaders, represented by former Supreme Court spokesperson Ted Te, to revoke Marcos’s certificate of candidacy (COC) for the May 9 presidential polls.

This petition to cancel Marcos’ COC is one among the three pending petitions against him.

Two others for disqualification remain: Christian Monsod’s petition is still pending in the 2nd Division, consolidated Akbayan/Ilagan/Mangelen is in the 1st Division.

Te’s group is now planning to appeal the decision en banc.

BBM spox’s reaction

“The petitioners’ mere creativity for writing and wanting what is not written in the law as basis to cancel the certificate of candidacy of presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos is way too frivolous and unmeritorious to override the basic precepts of the Constitution,” Marcos’ spokesperson Vic Rodriguez said in a statement later today.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez also said on Monday that if the division rulings have not attained finality yet in the Comelec en banc when they print the ballots, Marcos’ name will remain on the ballot.

If Marcos turns out to be barred from running via any of the petitions, “any vote garnered by that name in the ballot will be considered stray,” said Jimenez.

However, among the scenarios is Marcos being disqualified with finality, in which case, individuals with the same surname can substitute him.

For example, his sister, Senator Imee Marcos, or his wife Lisa Araneta Marcos, can take his place. Jimenez said “the substitution can be made up to mid-day of election day.”

The substitute need not come from the same party (in Marcos’ case, the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas or PFP) because there is nothing in the rules that says so, said Jimenez.

Not false

The 32-page decision was penned by Commissioner Socorro Inting, with concurrences from Commissioners Antonio Kho Jr. and Rey Bulay.

Te’s group had argued that when Marcos said in his COC he had not been meted the penalty of perpetual disqualification, he committed material representation – the sole ground of a petition to cancel his COC.

The 2nd Division said that while such information was material, it was not false.

“Respondent cannot be said to have deliberately attempted to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact which would otherwise render him ineligible,” said the ruling.

The ruling agreed with the arguments of Marcos’ lawyers that the Court of Appeals’ (CA) amended decision in 1997 “did not categorically hold that respondent is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude nor did it positively pronounce that respondent is meted with the penalty of imprisonment of more than 18 months.”

Te’s group argued that by sheer conviction of failure to file income tax returns, Marcos was automatically perpetually disqualified from public office because that is an accessory penalty of the tax code.

Te’s group said it need not be spelled out by the CA.

The Comelec 2nd division disagreed, saying “there is likewise no definitive declaration by the said decision that herein respondent is perpetually disqualified from holding public office.”

If the COC is canceled on appeal and affirmed with finality, not only is Marcos barred from running, he also cannot be substituted.

Integrity of the elections

The real goal therefore of the whole exercise is to score political points and convince voters before election day, Fortun said in his statement.

“All that said, our focus should be on the integrity of the elections at the national and local levels,” he added. “A decisive majority with clear insurmountable and uncontestable results is what would settle the matter.”

Tags: #2022Elections, #CommissionOnElections, #BongbongMarcos


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