The official campaign period has not started, but presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is already facing four petitions before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to prevent him from running in the May 2022 elections.
Two of these petitions are asking Comelec to cancel his candidacy papers. Another wants him declared a nuisance candidate. A fourth petition seeking his disqualification was filed by a group of victims of human rights violations during the 14-year martial rule of Marcos Jr.’s father, the late dictator Ferdinand, citing a 1995 case in which the younger Marcos was convicted for failing to file income tax returns from 1982 to 1985.
In a Nov. 18 press briefing, Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said the commission still had to decide whether to consolidate the similar petitions.
Jimenez said he had not seen so many petitions against a candidate since the 2016 presidential elections when Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares, a foundling, ran for the country’s top public office. She faced three petitions (consolidated into one) for disqualification and another for cancellation of her certificate of candidacy (COC), questioning her nationality and residency in the Philippines.
Aside from Marcos Jr., senatorial aspirant Raffy Tulfo is also facing a disqualification case. A certain Julieta Pearson alleged that Tulfo failed to indicate in his COC that she is the broadcaster’s legal wife.
In view of these various petitions, let’s find out how a cancellation of candidacy differs from disqualification in the elections. What are the procedures in settling these issues? Here are three things you need to know:
1. What is the difference between a petition for disqualification and a cancellation?
These two types of petition, if successful, would ban a candidate from public office or void all votes for him or her. Any registered voter or political party, organization, or coalition may file either type of petition, although they differ in the nature, grounds, outcome, and prescribed period for filing.
A petition for disqualification argues that an aspirant should neither be considered a candidate nor be proclaimed a winner because of an election offense or conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude on any of the grounds under Sections 12 and 68 of the 1985 Omnibus Election Code, or the amended Batas Pambansa Blg. 881.
The petition must be filed any day after the deadline for the filing of COCs, but not later than the date of proclamation of winners. In case of a substitute candidate, this must be done five days from the filing date of the COC. The Comelec may also initiate a disqualification case against a candidate, according to Jimenez.
A petition for cancellation, on the other hand, seeks to compel the Comelec to cancel or deny an aspirant’s COC based “exclusively” on the ground of false material representation, or wrong information stated in the document.
The petition must be filed within five days from the deadline of submission of COCs, but not later than 25 days from the date the form was filed with the Comelec. Similar to a disqualification case, petitioners have five days to initiate a complaint against a substitute candidate from the date of COC filing.
The Comelec may also cancel the COC of an aspirant who has been declared a nuisance candidate, described in Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code as someone who has no bona fide or genuine intention to run, placing the election process “in mockery or disrepute,” or sowing confusion by the similarity of names with other candidates.
2. What procedures do these petitions go through?
According to Jimenez, the Comelec follows four steps to resolve both types of petitions. The process begins when the petition is raffled off to either of the two divisions of the Comelec.
Section 72 of the Omnibus Election Code states that a petition to disqualify a candidate must be resolved by the Comelec or any court seven days before an election. Section 78 of the Code provides that a cancellation petition must be resolved not later than 15 days before election day.
When a Comelec division grants a petition, the candidate has the right to file a motion for reconsideration or appeal to the commission en banc. Should the Comelec en banc uphold the division’s decision, the aspirant may bring the issue to the Supreme Court (SC) by filing a petition for certiorari within 30 days after promulgation.
In the case of Poe-Llamanzares in 2016, the SC granted her petitions to nullify the two decisions of the Comelec en banc to cancel her COC and disqualify her from running for president.
3. What is the effect of a granted petition?
This will depend on the nature of the petition and when the Comelec or the SC resolves it.
Candidates disqualified before election day can be substituted, but only by a partymate until noon of election day. But Jimenez said an aspirant whose COC is cancelled or denied by the Comelec cannot be substituted.
If a disqualification or cancellation petition is still pending on election day, the petitioner may file a motion based on strong evidence with the Comelec to suspend the proclamation of the candidate. The commission must resolve a petition for disqualification even after the aspirant has been proclaimed.
A petition to disqualify granted after election day bars the proclamation of a winning candidate. The votes cast for an aspirant whose COC was cancelled will be considered stray.
What has happened so far to the petitions against Marcos Jr.?
All four petitions against Marcos Jr. remain pending.
The first petition filed on Oct. 12 by presidential aspirant Danilo Lihaylihay to declare the former senator a nuisance candidate and cancel his COC had been raffled off to the Comelec Second Division. In a Nov. 26 press briefing, Jimenez said Lihaylihay and Marcos Jr. had a pre-conference on Nov. 18.
On the petition to cancel Marcos Jr.’s COC for failing to disclose his conviction in a 1995 tax evasion case that was filed by a group of civic leaders led by priest Christian Buenafe of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines and Fides Lim of Kapatid on Nov. 2, the Comelec Second Division had set a pre-conference meeting on Nov. 26.
Marcos Jr. submitted on Nov. 19 his verified answer to the cancellation petition, asking the poll body to take judicial notice that he had already served various elective positions such as senator and representative since the 1995 convictions.
Marcos Jr. actually missed the original deadline for the submission of his response to the petition. Theodore Te, lawyer for the group of Buenafe and Lim, revealed on Nov. 18 that the presidential aspirant had failed to submit on time an answer to their petition and, instead, requested an extension of the deadline to Nov. 22. The former SC spokesperson cautioned the Comelec against flouting its own rules, noting that the poll body clearly informed Marcos Jr. to submit his answer “within an inextendible period” of five days from receipt of the summons that ended on Nov. 16.
Based on Comelec Resolution No. 9523, the failure of a party (Marcos Jr.) to file a verified answer “within the reglementary period shall bar the respondent from submitting controverting evidence or filing his memorandum.” Despite Te’s warning, the second division granted the candidate’s request.
Here are the updates on the two other petitions:
- The petition filed on Nov. 9 by presidential aspirant Tiburcio Villamor Marcos to cancel the COC of Marcos Jr. for being an impostor, claiming that the real Marcos Jr. already died in 1975, has been raffled off to the Comelec Second Division but has not been set for a pre-conference.
- The petition filed on Nov. 17 by former Bayan Muna representative Satur Ocampo, Bonifacio Ilagan and other martial law victims to disqualify Marcos Jr. due to his 1995 tax evasion conviction, which was upheld by the Court of Appeals (CA), will be raffled off on Nov. 29 and has not been scheduled for a pre-conference.
In 1995, the CA affirmed the decision of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, convicting Marcos Jr. of tax evasion for failing to file his income tax returns from 1982-1985. (See Final decision to bar Bongbong Marcos in 2022 nat’l elections due to tax evasion is on SC — Carpio – Vera Files)
“[The petitions are] nuisance and part of cheap political gimmicks from the same group of people who do not want the country to move ahead and get out of the pandemic,” Rodriguez said.
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Commission on Elections, Press Briefing with Spokesperson James Jimenez, Nov. 18, 2021
Commission on Elections, Press Briefing with Spokesperson James Jimenez, Nov. 26, 2021
Commission on Elections, Press Briefing with Spokesperson James Jimenez, Nov. 25, 2021
Official Gazette, The Fall of the Dictatorship, Accessed Nov. 18, 2021
Inquirer.net, Petitioner wants Comelec to cancel COC of senatorial aspirant Raffy Tulfo, Nov. 18, 2021
Rappler, Raffy Tulfo’s ‘wife’ asks Comelec to junk his 2022 senatorial bid, Nov. 18, 2021
CNN Philippines, Senatorial aspirant Raffy Tulfo faces COC cancellation petition, Nov. 19, 2021
Official Gazette, Batas Pambansa Blg. 881
Supreme Court, [ G.R. No. 221697], March 8, 2016
Commission Elections, Resolution No. 9523, Sept. 25, 2012
Commission on Elections, COMELEC Rules of Procedure – Part VII, Accessed Nov. 24, 2021
Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Definition of bona fide, Accessed Nov. 24, 2021
Kapatid, [petition against Marcos Jr.], Nov. 3, 2021
Rappler.com, Marcos’ answer to Comelec suit: I already served in elective posts, Nov. 22, 2021
Politiko, Marcos asks Comelec to dismiss disqualification petition |, Nov. 23, 2021
GMA News Online, Marcos Jr. denies material representation, asks Comelec to dismiss petition vs. COC, Nov. 20, 2021
Lawyer Theodore Te official Twitter account, “Update “, Nov. 18, 2021
Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez official Twitter account, Getting word that COMELEC 2nd Div just now issued an extension in the cancellation case against former Senator Marcos. 5 days. , Nov. 18, 2021
Danilo Lihaylihay, BBM WAS ALREADY SUMMONED BY THE COMELEC TO FILE HIS VERIFIED ANSWER…, , Nov. 7, 2021
Rappler, LIST: Petitions seeking to block Bongbong Marcos’ 2022 presidential bid, Nov. 23, 2021
Inquirer.net, Is Bongbong really dead? Comelec asked to junk COC of Marcos ‘impostor’, Nov. 25, 2021
Bayan Muna official Twitter account, (Inquirer.net report on the petition), Nov. 18, 2021
Manila Bulletin, DQ case filed vs Marcos Jr., Nov. 17, 2021
Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr., official website, CEBUANOS STAGE PROTEST RALLY AGAINST BID TO CANCEL BBM’S COC, Nov. 19, 2021
Commission on Elections, Telephone call to the Office of the Clerk of the Commission, Nov. 27, 2021
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