Business World : Comelec throws out disqualification suits vs Bongbong Marcos

By Business World

THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) has rejected four separate motions seeking to reverse a division ruling allowing the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, Sr. to run for president this year.

In a 30-page decision, the Comelec full court said the plaintiffs had failed to provide “any solid ground” to bar the presidential run of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr., who is headed for a landslide victory.

The lawsuits were anchored on Mr. Marcos’s conviction in the 1990s for failing to file income tax returns.

“A careful review of the motions for reconsideration reveals that they failed to raise new matters that would warrant the reversal of the assailed resolution,” according to a copy of the decision. The motions were just a rehash of old arguments, it added.

“I expect the decision to be brought to the Supreme Court,” Michael Henry Ll. Yusingco, a senior research fellow at the Ateneo de Manila University Policy Center, said in a Facebook Messenger chat. “The case can be a hovering threat to the presidency of Marcos.

“There will always be that thought that a Vice-President Sara Duterte-Carpio can emulate the path of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and have a nine-year stay at the presidency.”

Ms. Arroyo as vice-president succeeded then President Joseph E. Estrada after his ouster by a popular street uprising in Jan. 2001, three years short of a Philippine president’s single six-year term. She served six more years as president after winning in 2004 amid allegations of cheating.

Human rights group Kapatid, one of the petitioners, in a statement said it would appeal the Comelec ruling before the Supreme Court.

Hansley A. Juliano, a former political science professor studying at Nagoya University’s Graduate School of International Development in Japan, said the Comelec decision does not solve credibility issues.

“As much as we want to believe the impartiality and integrity of Comelec, its entire composition and behavior were not at all credible in the past months, staffed as it is with identified administration allies,” he said in a Messenger chat.

The en banc decision favoring the late dictator’s son affirmed a ruling by Commissioner Aimee P. Ferolino, who in February said there is no law punishing one’s failure to file income tax returns.

The Second Division rejected a similar petition in January as it ruled Mr. Marcos did not mislead the public when he said in his certificate of candidacy that he was eligible to run for president.

Ms. 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. — J.V.D. Ordoñez