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Inquirer.net : Expediting Bongbong’s COC cancellation

News & Interviews
19 December 2021

By Artemio V. Panganiban | Inquirer.net

The Second Division of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), headed by Presiding Commissioner Socorro B. Inting, deserves public commendation for following strictly the Comelec Rules of Procedure, thereby expediting the resolution of the petition filed by lawyer Theodore O. Te to cancel the certificate of candidacy (COC) of Bongbong Marcos.

IN SIMPLE LANGUAGE, UNDER THE COMELEC RULES, all that are required to render a decision are (1) a Petition valid in form and substance, (2) Answer by the respondent, (3) Preliminary Conference conducted by the Clerk of the Division, and (4) Memoranda to be submitted by both parties.

At its sole discretion, the Comelec Division may require a “clarificatory hearing;” otherwise, “the case shall be deemed submitted for resolution upon the receipt of both parties’ Memoranda or upon the expiration of the period to do so, whichever comes sooner.” The Supreme Court has ruled in Reyes v. Comelec (Oct. 22, 2013) that the proceeding to deny due course or to cancel a COC is “summary in nature.”

Consequently, the Division denied, correctly in my humble opinion, all petitions-in-intervention, motions for issuance of subpoena by the petitioners, and the plea for “face-to-face argument” by the respondent because they “are no longer necessary in the resolution of the case. Doing so would only result to unnecessary delay which is inconsistent with the summary nature of this case.”

SINCE THE FIRST THREE OF THE ABOVE REQUIREMENTS (Items 1, 2, and 3) have been satisfactorily completed, the Division gave the parties “FIVE (5) days from receipt of this Order to file their respective Memoranda… The case is deemed submitted for resolution after the lapse of the said period.”

Given this demonstration of fortitude and competence by the Second Division, we eagerly await its decision between Christmas and New Year, which the losing party may appeal to the Comelec en banc via a motion for reconsideration. Thereafter, the Supreme Court may review, upon proper petition by the proper party, the decision of the banc.

An early decision is surely good for the parties and the general public in order to put to rest the pivotal issue of whether Bongbong Marcos and his supporters could continue spending time, resources, and effort in his quest for the presidency.

* * *

THE SUPREME COURT CHIDED AGAIN the Sandiganbayan (SBN) and the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and their lawyers in Cojuangco v. SBN (promulgated on April 28, 2021 but released publicly only earlier this month) for grossly violating “petitioner’s constitutional rights to due process and speedy disposition of cases… thereby necessitating the dismissal of” the ill-gotten wealth cases filed against the petitioner (P. 26, decision).

The case filed by abogado de campanilla Estelito P. Mendoza alleged that “the SBN has unjustly allowed (petitioner’s ill-gotten wealth cases) to be pending for more than 32 years without commencing trial proper and without exerting any effort to dispose them…” (P. 1).

Instead, the PCGG and its lawyers just insisted, through various motions in the SBN and in the Supreme Court, to finish the cases through “summary judgments” and “judgments on the pleadings,” despite their denial by both courts.

Citing the guidelines in Cagang v. SBN (July 31, 2018), the Court reminded the SBN and the PCGG that for far less inordinate delays—three years in Tatad v. SBN (March 21, 1988); four in Duterte v. SBN (April 27, 1998); five in Magante v. SBN (July 23, 2018); six in Angchangco v. OMB (Feb. 13, 1997), in Roque v. Omb (May 12, 1999), and in Remulla v. SBN (April 17, 2017); seven in Inocentes v. People (July 7, 2016); 10 in Licaros v. SBN (Nov. 22, 2001); and 15 in People v. SBN (2016)—the Court has dismissed cases for the same violations. Yet, these cited decisions “pale in comparison to what transpired in (petitioner’s) cases thereby warranting a stronger reason for the Court to uphold the rights that petitioner invoked herein” (P. 19).

Interestingly, the decision writer, Justice Edgardo L. Delos Santos, who entered the Court on Dec. 3, 2019 to serve until his 70th birthday on June 12, 2022, optionally retired on June 29, 2021—one year ahead of schedule, two months after he wrote this decision and way before it was released publicly this month.

And sadly for his family, Eduardo M. Cojuangco Jr. “passed away on June 16, 2020” without knowing the vindication of his constitutional rights (P. 7).