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Comelec en banc upholds no-disqualification for Marcos Jr. in presidential race

Petitioners have five days to file a temporary restraining order before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) declares as “final and executory” the en banc decision to uphold the non-disqualification of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., lawyer and Clerk of the Commission Genesis Gatdula said.

In a press briefing, Gatdula told reporters the petitioners may file a petition of certiorari before the Supreme Court (SC) within 30 days from May 10, based on Rule 37 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure and Sec. 64 of the Rules of Court.

Marcos Jr., who is currently leading the unofficial election results, is the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

Six out of seven members of the Comelec en banc affirmed the vote not to disqualify the presidential candidate in a decision sent to reporters on May 10.

Commissioner George Erwin Garcia, whose former client was Marcos Jr., inhibited himself from the cases.

If Marcos Jr. is proclaimed the president, then the disqualification cases will fall “under the jurisdiction of the Presidential Election Tribunal (PET),” Gatdula said.

The poll body dismissed the motion for reconsideration of the three consolidated cases filed by former Bayan Muna representative Satur Ocampo, Bonifacio Ilagan, and other martial law victims (Ilagan, et. al. vs Marcos); Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party (Akbayan, et. al. vs Marcos); and Abubakar Mangelen, former chairman of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (Mangelen, et. al. vs Marcos).

“The instant motions of reconsideration contain rehash of the petitioners’ assertions and arguments before the commission,” summed up the Comelec en banc’s 25-page decision.

“We find no cogent to disturb the findings of the commission. Petitioners were unable to raise issues and provide groups to convince us that the evidence is insufficient to justify the initial resolution,” it added.

The Comelec’s former first division, composed of Commissioners Aimee P. Ferolino and Marlon S. Casquejo, dismissed the case filed in December 2021 “for lack of merit.” The petitioners argued that Marcos’ conviction for the non-filing of income tax returns from 1982 to 1985 was subject to perpetual disqualification and is a crime involving moral turpitude.

Another appeal for the cancellation of Marcos Jr.’s certificate of candidacy by Fr. Christian Buenafe et. al., earlier dismissed by the Second Division “for lack of merit,” was also upheld by the en banc.

The commissioners reasoned that Presidential Decree 1994, which took effect on Jan. 1, 1986, does not apply to the former senator since he “ceased to be a public officer when he and his family were forced to leave the country in February 1986.”

Hence, they ruled that his certificate of candidacy where he swore under oath that he has not been found liable for an offense that carries a penalty of perpetual disqualification is “not false.”

(See VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Understanding the petitions against candidates in the 2022 polls)

The fourth case, submitted to the Comelec on April 25, 2022, filed by the group Pudno Nga Ilocano or the Sandanan et. al. vs Marcos, remains pending as of writing.

Meanwhile, Kapatid, a support group for families of political prisoners during Martial Law, said it stood by its cancellation petition and issued a statement that it will “challenge the decision of the Comelec” before the SC.

“His projected presidential win does not absolve him from this immutable fact nor does it detract a bit from the fundamental principles of truth, honesty, accountability, and integrity demanded of any person who seeks the highest office in the land,” said Kapatid chairperson Fides Lim.

Akbayan, on the other hand, blasted the Comelec decision, tagging it as a “catastrophe for the country’s electoral democracy.”

“It is both a colossal and institutional failure, on the part of the Comelec, to safeguard our electoral system from an unqualified candidate, a plunderer and convicted tax evader,” the group said in a statement to the media.

Akbayan will also pursue its case before the high tribunal.

–with reports from Blanch Ancla, Merinette Retona, and Ivel John M. Santos