VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Comelec spox’s remark on ‘no clear case’ vs Bongbong Marcos NEEDS CONTEXT

A day after a petition was filed seeking to cancel the certificate of candidacy for president of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., a social media card went viral quoting Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson James Jimenez saying “there is no clear case” to bar the late dictator’s son’s bid.

This needs context. Jimenez made the statement hours before a group of civil society actors filed the petition.

The timeline

On the evening of Nov. 2, One News PH published a report about a case being filed at the Comelec aiming to cancel Marcos Jr.’s candidacy.

Jimenez was shown saying: “Under the law, a conviction has to be for a crime involving moral turpitude or for an offense and the sentence is a penalty of 18 months, at least 18 months. He doesn’t meet these criteria … Right now, there is no clear case for disqualification.”

Less than 12 hours later, at 9:46 a.m., pro-Marcos Facebook (FB) page BBM Youth Advocate ツ published a graphic showing a picture of Jimenez, a paraphrased version of his answer to One News PH and the hashtag #ProtectMarcosJr.

A look at social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle shows at least 400 more copies of the graphic have been uploaded by other FB pages and accounts.

At 11:19 a.m. of Nov. 3, asked on Twitter about the circulating quote card, Jimenez responded that he made his statement prior to the filing of the petition.

In a subsequent interview with One News PH, Jimenez also said his remarks should not be considered as a comment on the recently filed petition. He clarified that he was referring to Marcos being allowed to run for vice president and senator in the past.

Hindi po siya na-disqualify those two times kasi po walang kaso for disqualification noon. So ngayon, noong time na sinabi ko ‘yon, wala din pong kaso sa disqualification. But again, nagbago na po iyan dahil nagkaroon na ng kaso. Nag-file kahapon po,” he said.

(Translation: He wasn’t disqualified those two times because there were no cases for his disqualification then. Now, at the time I made my statement, there was also no disqualification case. But again, this has changed because there is now a case. It was filed yesterday.)

The One News PH journalist who interviewed Jimenez said in a message to reporters that she spoke with him on the morning of Nov. 2.

A copy of the petition shared with the media shows it was received by the Office of the Clerk of the Commission at 4:40 p.m. of Nov. 2.

The case was put forth by representatives from Balay Rehabilitation Center, Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance, Kapatid, Medical Action Group, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines. It argues that Marcos is disqualified from running for office because of his conviction in tax evasion cases.

The FB page that published the misleading graphic has so far received over 10,000 reactions, 1,600 comments and 3,200 shares for its post. Among the other pages that have re-uploaded the graphic and collectively drawn more than 16,600 interactions were Atty. Larry Gadon 2022 (created only last Oct. 29), Pres. Ferdinand Emmanuel E. Marcos (created May 18, 2012), and Maharlika TV (April 21, 2020).

(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)

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