Comelec junks disqualification cases vs Marcos; petitioners seek reconsideration

FORMER SENATOR Ferdinand Marcos Jr. with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and Sen. Ronald dela Rosa at a wedding in Cavite

MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has junked disqualification cases against presidential aspirant former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. but petitioner immediately moved for reconsideration.

Akbayan asked the Comelec to reconsider its decision junking their petition to disqualify presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. from the May 9 elections.

Petitioners represented by Bonifacio Ilagan have also asked the Comelec en banc to reverse the ruling of the First Division.

On Monday, another petitioner, Abubakar Mangelen filed his MR on the three disqualification petitions which were consolidated by the division.

In a 16-page motion for reconsideration (MR), Akbayan chairperson emeritus Etta Rosales, First Nominee Percival Cendaña, and Second Nominee Dr. RJ Naguit called on the Comelec en banc to reverse the decision of its First Division and include the points raised by retired Commissioner Rowena Guanzon in her separate opinion in the deliberation of the case.

“Wherefore, the Petitioners respectfully pray that the Resolution dated 10 February 2022 of the Former First Division of this Honorable Commission be set aside and that the instant Petition for Disqualification be granted,” the motion said.

Cendaña said they will pursue the case until the end.

“The fight is far from over. Bongbong cannot just sweep this under the rug. His tax evasion conviction and his continuing attempts to deceive the public are stains that won’t wash away. These will haunt him throughout the campaign. We will pursue this to the end and ensure a just conclusion to the case,” he said in a statement.

The petitioners also claimed that the First Division’s ruling may be void and may have violated its own rules when it issued the decision with only two actively serving commissioners.

“The Comelec’s rules provide that a Division shall be composed of three commissioners. As such, the decision issued on the petitions may be void as it was issued by a Division that was not validly constituted, there being only two commissioners left. Had they issued the resolution when the Division was still validly constituted by three Commissioners, then it would have been a valid resolution,” he added.

Cendaña added that the February 10 resolution of the poll body’s First Division is null and void as this was not issued by “a validly-constituted Division”.

“Since there were only two Commissioners in the so-called ‘First Division’ or the so-called ‘Former First Division’ there clearly was no validly-constituted Division of the Comelec, to begin with. Consequently, the so-called ‘Resolution’ dated 10 February 2022 should not be treated as one that is validly issued by the Comelec. It is nothing more than a document issued by two Commissioners, but certainly not a Resolution or Decision that should be treated as having been issued by the Comelec,” the petitioners added.

The group also called on Commissioner Aimee Ferolino, the ponente of the February 10 decision, to inhibit herself from the en banc’s deliberations as her involvement in the serious accusations made by former Commissioner Rowena Guanzon undermined her credibility and integrity.

“Wherefore, the Petitioners respectfully pray reconsideration and for the following reliefs: 1. Reversing the Resolution dated 10 February 2022; 2. Disqualify respondent Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. as candidate for President of the Republic of the Philippines in the 09 May 2022 National and Local Elections,” the petitioners said in a 16-page motion for reconsideration filed on Tuesday.

At the same time, the petitioners claimed that the division erred when it ruled that the failure to file income tax returns for four consecutive years is not inherently wrong and does not involve moral turpitude.

“In justifying its Resolution, the Honorable First Division opined that failure to file tax returns is not inherently wrong in the absence of a law punishing it, and that it is only through the enactment of the tax code that it became punishable. It was further ruled that since the tax code only provided a penalty of fine, it is not so grave of an offense. With due respect to the Honorable Commission, it is submitted that it is the repeated, deliberate, willful, and intentional violation of the tax code that makes such violation a crime involving moral turpitude,” they said.

They added that regardless of the penalty imposed by the court, a violation of Presidential Decree 1994 signed in 1985 comes with a penalty of perpetual disqualification from running for public office.

“This fact is amplified by the respondent convicted candidate Marcos, Jr.’s admission that he has not satisfied the payment of penalties imposed by the Court when he admitted that he has no evidence of paying the fines before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City Branch 105,” they added.