UniTeam senatorial candidate Harry Roque is confident that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc will not overturn the unanimous decision of its two divisions that dismissed several disqualification petitions against the team’s presidential frontrunner, Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr.
Roque, a former professor at the University of the Philippines-College of Law, said the Supreme Court would most likely respect and accept the decision of Comelec as the constitutional and administrative tribunal that specializes in Philippine election law.
“My fearless prediction is that the commissioners sitting en banc will uphold their earlier decision as members of the 1st and 2nd Divisions, respectively,” Roque said. “This is to junk any appeal to reverse Comelec’s ruling on the disqualification cases.”
“We can safely say that Bongbong Marcos remains an official and the leading presidential candidate,” he added.
Roque said the Comelec 1st Division affirmed his earlier position that the non-filing of Income Tax Return (ITR) is not a crime that involves moral turpitude.
“It can be likened to jaywalking, a criminal offense but not inherently evil,” he stressed.
He noted that there was no dissenting opinion from commissioners in both poll body divisions when they decided on the disqualification cases.
“The Comelec promulgated a unanimous decision. Unless the petitioners can present new jurisprudence in their motion for reconsideration, then I believe the commission en banc will affirm the ruling of both divisions,” Roque said.
Meanwhile, Roque said the Supreme Court would accept the appeal filed by the losing parties but the presumption that the Comelec had correctly discharged its duties.
According to Roque, the high court would seriously consider Comelec’s unanimous decision since it usually defers the constitutional commission with primary jurisdiction on a specific matter.
“When it comes to election-related matters, it falls under the Comelec,” said Roque, a former UP College of Law professor said.
Further, Roque chided anti-Marcos factions when they falsely claimed that the former senator was convicted of tax evasion, a crime of moral turpitude.
Roque clarified that the courts penalized Marcos for failing to file his ITR with a fine and not a prison sentence or penalty of perpetual disqualification from public office.
One more disqualification case against Marcos is pending before the Comelec’s 2nd Division.