Business Mirror : Comelec told to resolve Marcos cases this month

10 April 2022

By Business Mirror

THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) should resolve the disqualification cases against former Senator and presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. this month, as promised, to remain credible, political analysts said at the weekend.

“The new chairman needs to prove that Comelec will maximize its quasi-judicial and quasi-legislative independence by acting quickly and judiciously on these controversial cases,” Danilo A. Arao, lead convenor of election watchdog Kontra Daya, said in a Facebook Messenger chat. “They have to meet their self-imposed deadline because failing to do so is utterly unacceptable.”

The election body has yet to resolve several cases seeking to disqualify the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos from the presidential race.

Election Commissioner George Erwin M. Garcia earlier said Comelec would resolve the pending lawsuits by the third week of April.

Newly appointed Comelec Chairman Saidamen B. Pangarungan last month said they would fast-track the cases.

On Friday, a group of martial law victims filed a second “extremely urgent” motion for Comelec to resolve one of the cases pending with its Second Division. Delaying the case could complicate this year’s presidential election, they said.

“Only Comelec could give a definite answer if they can resolve these cases in time,” Dennis C. Coronacion, who heads the University of Santo Tomas Department of Political Science, said in a Viber message.

“At this point, I’m not optimistic that the election body is going to issue a ruling that is favorable to the petitioners,” he added.

The First Division earlier dismissed three consolidated lawsuits seeking to bar Mr. Marcos from the presidential contest, as it ruled that his failure to file his tax returns in the 1980s did not involve wicked, deviant behavior. The case is on appeal with the Comelec full court.

The Second Division rejected a similar petition in January, which ruled that Mr. Marcos did not mislead the public when he said in his certificate of candidacy that he was eligible to run for president. The case is also on appeal with the en banc.

Election Commissioner Aimee P. Ferolino had been accused of delaying one of the cases. She denied the allegations and said it was a minor issue that would not affect the credibility of the commission as a whole.

Retired Election Commissioner Maria Rowena V. Guanzon had accused her of delaying the case so her vote for disqualification would not count. She also said a senator from Davao was meddling in the case.

The Akbayan party-list group, among those that filed a disqualification petition, earlier asked Comelec to fast-track its decision.

Decisions by the Comelec en banc can be appealed before the Supreme Court.

Mr. Arao said Comelec should be decisive enough to act on these pending lawsuits against Mr. Marcos within the month, including those on appeal.

“The possibility looms that the next president’s tenure would be decided by the Supreme Court and that the vice president would have to take over if he gets disqualified,” he said. “That looming scenario is possible because of the delays at the Comelec First Division.” — John Victor D. Ordoñez