Manila Bulletin : Comelec 2nd Division says it's 'ironic' petitioners made misrepresentations, not Marcos, Jr.

18 January 2022

By Dhel Nazario | Manila Bulletin

In its unanimous ruling on Monday, Jan. 17, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Second Division said that they found it “ironic” that it was the petitioners who accused presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. of making material representations when “they themselves are guilty” of the supposed act.

“It somehow becomes ironic when we realize the thought that herein Petitioners accuse Respondent Marcos of misrepresentation while they themselves are guilty of supposed misrepresentations in this very same proceeding,” the decision read.

The petition, filed by a group of Marcos critics represented by former Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te, was aimed at preventing Marcos Jr. from running for President in the upcoming 2022 national elections.

Petitioners Fr. Christian Buenafe of Task Force Detainees, Fides Lim of Kapatid, Ma Edeliza Hernandez of Medical Action Group, Celia Lagman Sevilla of Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance, Roland Vibal of PH Alliance of Human Rights, and Josephine Lasvano of Balay Rehab Center filed a petition to cancel Marcos’ COC which according to them, contains multiple false material representations.

The ruling, which denied the petition filed for lack of merit, enumerated the attempts of the petitioners to mislead the poll body with their allegations and misrepresentations of facts and wrong quotations of certain provisions of the law.

The misrepresentation that the commission was referring to was on Section 254 of the NIRC wherein it was stated that the petitioners made it appear that imprisonment is mandatory punishment which “reeks of deliberate intent to deceive or mislead the Commission,” another portion of the ruling read.

“Petitioners shamelessly cited a certain provision denominated as Section 254 of the 1977 NIRC which they alleged such provision punishes those who fail to file an ITR fine of not less than P10,000 ‘AND’ imprisonment. However, a careful reading of the actual Section 254 of the 1977 NIRC shows that it refers to rentals and royalties and mineral lands under lease.” read another portion of the Second Division’s ruling.

“Petitioners and counsel knowingly misrepresented provisions of law not yet applicable in the case at bar and knowingly misquoted Section 254 by making it appear that it contained the word “AND” rather than “OR” in order to emphasize their skewed theory of mandatory application of the penalty of imprisonment,” the decision further stated.

Commissioners Antonio T. Kho, Jr. and Rey E. Bulay concurred with the ruling, which lamented what it called an “obvious clutching at straws,” or a desperate attempt, by the petitioners to convince the poll body to cancel the CoC of Marcos, Jr.

Meanwhile, the commission as well did not simply dismiss summarily by unanimous vote the petition to cancel the Marcos Jr.’s COC but went ahead to discuss what it described as a deliberate attempt by the petitioners to deceive the poll body.

“Since the instant petition, which is one for cancellation or denial of due course of a CoC invoked grounds for disqualification, the instant petition should be summarily dismissed. We shall nevertheless relax compliance with the technical rules of procedure and proceed to discuss the merits if only to fully and finally settle the matter in this case because of its paramount importance,” read a part of the 32-page decision of the Second Division penned by Presiding Commissioner Socorro B. Inting.