By William Depasupil , Bernadette E. Tamayo and Moises Cruz | The Manila Times
AN official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday said there was no basis to disqualify former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. (BBM) from the presidential race.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the disqualification case filed against Marcos had no clear basis.
He explained that in order to be disqualified, a candidate must have been convicted of a crime constituting "moral turpitude" or an offense with at least an 18-month jail term.
Jimenez said Marcos' case did not meet the criteria.
"It doesn't meet this criteria, so right now in order for him to be disqualified, as Justice [Antonio] Carpio opined in his article, there has to be a finding that the crime for which he was convicted involves moral turpitude," he said
"Right now it does not, because the Supreme Court said that it does not, so right now there is no clear case for disqualification," Jimenez added.
Marcos on Wednesday said he was not afraid of the disqualification case filed against him, saying it was just political harassment.
A group of Marcos critics consisting of political detainees and members of human rights and medical organizations filed before the Comelec on Tuesday a 57-page petition to cancel Marcos' certificate of candidacy (CoC) for president, citing his tax conviction Quezon City Regional Trial Court 1995 conviction for tax evasion.
"Sasagutin na lang namin ito pagdating… Siguro kasama na rin 'yan sa pulitika (We will answer this in due time. I guess this was part of politics)," Marcos said in a radio interview.
The petition was filed by Fr. Christian Buenafe and co-chairman Fides Lim of political prisoners' group Kapatid; Medical Action Group Executive Director Ma. Edeliza Hernandez; and Celia Lagman Sevilla, Roland Vivaldi and Josephine Lascano.
"Lalo na 'yung aming mga kalaban ay imbes na humarap sa eleksyon…kasi siguro natatakot sila sa numero, i-di disqualify na lang ako (Our [political] opponents, instead of facing me in the elections…perhaps they were afraid of the numbers [in presidential surveys] they will just aim to disqualify me," he said. "Pero hindi ako natatakot, hindi ako aatras, patuloy ang lahat ng aking gagawin, hindi ako (But I'm not afraid, I will not back down, I will continue what I'm doing, I will not) slide down."
Marcos thanked his supporters nationwide.
In a statement, Victor Rodriguez, Marcos spokesman, said the presidential candidate will not answer the petition until he receives a copy of it.
"We shall address this predictable nuisance petition at the proper time and forum — after we receive the official copy of the same," Rodriguez said on Wednesday.
"Until then, we will refrain from commenting on their propaganda. Our camp does not engage in gutter politics," he added.
Meanwhile, Sen. Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa said he was not worried if some groups would also seek his disqualification due to the charges he was facing before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
"Convicted na ba ako sa ICC? 'Di pa naman (Am I already convicted before the ICC? Not yet)," dela Rosa said.
House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate lauded the filing of a disqualification case against Marcos, saying the latter should not be allowed to get away with further deceiving the Filipino people, using their plundered riches."
"Talagang anak ng magnanakaw ang sinungaling. Wala nang ginawa kundi gastusin ang nakaw na yaman ng tatay niya para makabalik sa Malacañang (The liar is really the plunderer's son. He is splurging the ill-gotten wealth of his father so that he can go back to Malacañang),"he said.
"Our country can never be rebuilt by someone who actively participated in and benefited by its destruction. Never again should this impunity come to pass. He should be made accountable and not be allowed to run for or hold any public office, " said Zarate.
On October 31, Marcos' camp said he was gaining a strong foothold in Mindanao based on street surveys, citing the series of Kalye (street) Survey conducted by vloggers in different areas in the region.
In the recent Kalye Surveys conducted by vloggers of Bugwak TV in Butuan City, Gingoog, Misamis Oriental, and Surigao City, Marcos was the "preferred candidate of the working class."
"The real time, real man surveys mirrored the result of the recently published Presidential Preference Survey of PUBLiCUS Asia Inc., where Marcos got a whopping 62.5 percent voter preference in Mindanao," his office said.
Marcos' camp on October 24 said his lead in the third quarter presidential survey by PUBLiCUS Asia validated the results of the series of Kalye Survey conducted in the first two weeks of October.
The survey released by PUBLiCUS Asia on October 22 showed Marcos' big lead.
"Both the scientific and real-time street surveys also confirmed that Bongbong is widely chosen by the respondents as their best bet for president in next year's elections," the Marcos camp said.
In PUBLiCUS' Pahayag survey, Marcos' camp said he was "way ahead" of the other presidential aspirants as more voters showed an "overwhelming preference" for him in key voting areas.
In the National Capital Region, Marcos secured over 40 percent of the votes, and in North and Central Luzon, he got a whopping 55.7 percent.
In South Luzon, he obtained 38.2 percent, while in the Visayas, he registered 44.7 percent. Marcos cornered 62.5 percent voter preference in Mindanao.