GMA News Online : Comelec junks appeals vs. Bongbong Marcos candidacy

By RICHA NORIEGA and HANA BORDEY | GMA News Online

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday denied four appeals seeking to overturn the dismissal of presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s disqualification cases and a petition to have his certificate of candidacy cancelled.

The Comelec En Banc came up with the decision a day after the May 9 elections, the latest partial and unofficial results of which show Marcos way ahead of his fellow contenders for the presidency.

The three motions covered by the decision were those filed by Bonifacio Ilagan, human rights advocates and martial law victims; members of the Akbayan Citizens Action Party; and National Commission on Muslim Filipinos Commissioner Abubakar Mangelen.

According to the petitioners, Marcos should not be allowed to run for president because of his conviction for violation of the Internal Revenue Code, which carries a penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding any public office.

But according to the poll body, the petitioners failed to "raise new matters" that would warrant the reversal of junking of the disqualification cases.

“We find no cogent reason to disturb the findings of the Commission former first division,” a portion of the Comelec En Banc's resolution read.

It added: “Petitioners were unable to raise issues and provide grounds to convince us that, 1) the evidence is insufficient to justify the Assailed Resolution, or 20 the Assailed Resolution is contrary to the law.”

Happy with decision

In a press statement, Marcos’ spokesperson, Vic Rodriguez, said they were happy with the Comelec’s decision, saying the poll body had been true in ensuring an honest election.

“We have always believed that the poll body will stay true to its mandate to deliver a fair, honest and credible elections, including the dismissal of unmeritorious and politically-motivated petitions such as these,” Rodriguez said.

“The unanimous en banc decision has proven, once and for all, that no amount of undue political pressure can weaken the resolve of the honorable Commission to be on the side of truth and justice,” he added.

The resolution said that stripped of non-essentials, the instant motions for reconsideration merely contain "rehash of petitioners’ assertions and arguments before the former first division."

It also indicated that it was settled by the commission that the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification imposed under P.D. No. 1994 cannot be applied to respondent’s tax violations committed before the effectiveness of the said law on January 1, 1986.

“Therefore, there is no basis for herein petitioners to insist that respondent is perpetually disqualified from running for public office,” the poll body said.

The Comelec En Banc likewise affirmed the Comelec former Second Division's resolution that junked the petition to cancel Marcos' certificate of candidacy (COC) filed by a human rights group led by Father Christian Buenafe.

Similar to the ruling on the disqualification cases, the Comelec En Banc said the petitioners failed to raise new matters or issues that would warrant the reversal of the former Comelec Second Division's ruling.

The Comelec En Banc rejected the following assertions of the petitioners:

  • The Second Division grievously erred in characterizing the petition as susceptible to summary dismissal and in finding that the petition combined for disqualification and cancellation.
  • The Second Division grievously erred in ruling that Marcos’ material representation such as that he is eligible for the position of president and that he has not been convicted of a crime punished with the penalty of perpetual disqualification from public office, were not false.
  • Contrary to the finding of the Second Division, Marcos deliberately attempted to mislead, misinform, and deceive the electorate.

The poll body also rejected the petitioner's appeal for the “automatic and mandatory inhibition” of the members of the Comelec Second Division from participating in the discussions of the MR in the En Banc.

The Comelec En Banc refuted the assertion that the petition should not be summarily dismissed.

Comelec Commissioner George Garcia earlier said the petitioners could still appeal to the Supreme Court (SC) in case of an unfavorable decision.

Garcia inhibited himself from the case as he is Marcos' former election lawyer.

“But if and when or any other matters relating to the same whenever Marcos has already been proclaimed [and] assumed office, the cases shall be under the jurisdiction of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET),” said lawyer Genesis Gatdula, clerk of the commission, at a press briefing.

Elevate to SC

Both the Akbayan party-list and political prisoners support group Kapatid said they would appeal the Comelec's decision to the SC.

“We will pursue this case to its logical and just conclusion. We know that the law is on our side. We will not allow Marcos Jr. to sleep soundly. For there can be no rest for the wicked. And if the lessons of history have taught us anything, it is that the moral arc of the universe bends towards justice. All liars are exposed eventually, and the truth will have its day,” the party-list said.

“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 land. This is the core of our petition,” Kapatid added. — with Anna Felicia Bajo/KBK/RSJ/VBL, GMA News