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Manila Bulletin : Former Ateneo dean: Marcos likely to prevail in all disqualification petitions

News & Interviews
8 January 2022

By Mario Casayuran | Manila Bulletin

Presidential aspirant Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ R. Marcos Jr. will most likely prevail in all the petitions to cancel his Certificate of Candidacy in the 2022 elections before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) because of the ‘political doctrine’ that needs to be decided by the people and not by the court.

This is the view, according to a statement issued by Marcos’ camp, of lawyer Tony La Viña, former dean of Ateneo School of Government, in an interview over ANC, that the court cannot disqualify or dismiss a leading candidate that enjoys the support of the majority of the electorate.

“There is also a strong argument why they should be dismissed. The ultimate one is a political question. Especially a leading candidate, you should not disqualify a leading candidate that seems to have the support of many people, because you are depriving the people of their choice,’’ he said.

‘’That is political law 101. That certain things should be decided by the people and not by the courts,” La Viña added.

La Viña noted that it was being taught in law school particularly in the disqualification cases in the national polls.

“I teach Constitutional law, political law, and election law. When I teach this, I always tell my students, when you look at the disqualification cases, you look at the law of course, and the jurisprudence,” he noted.

He also believed that the Comelec and even the Supreme Court would most likely let the people decide in the upcoming elections.

“I’m inclined to think that most likely Bongbong Marcos will prevail in the disqualification cases, because more than anything, the political question doctrine. The court cannot decide this, it should be the people that should decide this,” La Viña added.

Another legal argument for Marcos which has been applied by the court many times, according to La Viña, is the qualification of the president that is clearly stated in the Constitution.

“The qualifications for president are laid down in the Constitution and it’s very simple. A voter, a citizen, a natural born citizen, 40 years, can read and write. That’s just very very basic. Now that goes down to the question: is he a voter? Can he be considered a qualified voter, because that’s where the disqualifications can come in,” he explained.

The list of legal luminaries who have stated that Marcos Jr. is qualified to run for president continues to grow, mostly saying it is either weak or has no legal basis.

Earlier, Atty. Emmanuel Samonte Tipon, a US-based Filipino lawyer, who is also the former dean of Northwestern University College of Law, dismantled the issues raised in each of the petition, which has ballooned to seven in total.

Also, Ateneo Law professor and former Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Alberto Agra said that the disqualification case against Marcos has no basis and is unlikely to move forward.

The same view was also pointed out by UST College of Law Dean Nilo Divina when he said that the petition filed against Marcos’ COC would likely fail because it is defective in form and lacks sufficient legal basis.