PHL PRESIDENTIAL RACE: MARCOS OUT? SARA IN? Petition filed to disqualify Bongbong, Bato wants him to run, hopeful for Sara

Editor in Chief
MANILA – Still smarting from his controversial Oxford University diploma claim, former Senator and presidential hopeful Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is now facing disqualification following the filing of petitions before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) seeking the cancellation his the Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for president for in the May 9, 2022 elections.

This developed as Vice President Leonor Leni Robredo, who defeated Marcos in the 2016 vice presidential race, fresh from doing the rounds in Tarlac and other areas, said she was hopeful that her bailiwick, the Bicol region which is composed of Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon and Catanduanes, will give her all-out support following her visit to the region.

Reacting to the disqualification case, Sen. Ronald Bato dela Rosa, the presidential candidate of President Rodrigo Duterte’s PDP-Laban party, said he would rather allow Marcos to run since it will be the electorate who will decide his fate.

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At the same time, dela Rosa said he remains hopeful that Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte will change her mind and will run for president, as her supporters are staging a caravan to show their support and to convince her to be a substitute candidate for president until November 15, the last day set by Comelec for substitution of candidates.
“The patriotism is burning in her eyes habang kinakausap ko siya (while I was talking to her). I see some hope,” Dela Rosa said in a television interview after he met Mayor Duterte last week in Davao City.
“Wala siyang sinabi sa akin na categorically na yes or no. Pero nakikita ko sa kanyang mata na may hope pa na posibleng mag-change. Hindi ko na pwedeng sabihin in detail kung meron pang sinabi,” Dela Rosa said.

A candidate of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, Marcos, for his part, shrugged off the petition, saying it was a “nuisance” effort to derail his road to the presidency.

At the same time, Marcos said that he will not back down and withdraw from the presidential race despite the petition.

Marcos also refuted the petitioners’ allegation, saying it was a political ploy.

“Hindi ko nga naintindihan kasi sinasabi nila may problema raw sa aking kandidatura. May isang kaso raw na hindi naayos. Hindi ko alam. Sasagutin na lang namin ito pagdating,” the former senator said in a radio interview.

As he thanked his supporters, Marcos said: “Pero hindi ako natatakot. Hindi ako aatras. Hindi ako mag-withdraw. Patuloy ang lahat ng aking gagawin. Hindi ako mag-slide down. Patuloy lang ang aking kandidatura. At sa aking mga supporters sa buong Pilipinas, nagpapasalamat  ako na hindi nawawala ang inyong tiwala sa akin.”
Meanwhile, Duterte’s supporters have scheduled a caravan from Mindanao to the Comelec office in Pasay City from November 4 to 15 urging the lady mayor to run for president.

Dela Rosa did not deny that he offered to give way should Mayor Duterte replace him as presidential bet. But the PDP-Laban faction that nominated him said that this was a personal gesture and does not reflect the whole party’s sentiment.

Mayor Duterte has stood firm about her reelection bid in Davao City, but PDP-Laban is still hoping for a possible alliance with her regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago which will be her vehicle for a presidential run.

In their 57-page petition before the Comelec,  Fr. Christian Buenafe, Fides Lim, Ma. Edeliza Hernandez, Celia Lagman Sevilla, Roland Vibal, and Josephine Lascano claimed that Marcos’ COC contained multiple false material representations.

“Specifically, Marcos falsified his Certificate of Candidacy when he claimed that he was eligible to be a candidate for President of the Philippines in the 2022 national elections when in fact he is disqualified from doing so,” the petitioners said in a statement.

It was pointed out by the petitioners that Marcos was convicted by the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City in a July 27, 1995 decision “for his multiple failures to file income tax returns”.

They also claimed that the Court of Appeals upheld the decision which was no longer appealed before the Supreme Court, “thereby becoming a final and unappealable conviction” which, they added, make Marcos disqualified to run for president.

The petitioners said the crimes for which Marcos was convicted by final judgment were also crimes involving moral turpitude that disqualify Marcos from being a candidate for any office under Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code.

 The Petition to Cancel or Deny Due Course was filed under Section 78 in relation to Section 74, Article IX of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC).

In reaction to the petition, the Comelec will tackle the petition, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said a hearing will be conducted to determine if there is indeed a misrepresentation committed by the former senator.

“Well, definitely there will be hearings about that since the point of the cancellation petition, there was a material misrepresentation in COC (certificate of candidacy). This means that there was untruthfulness or wrong information given to the COC so that needs to be proven,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez said he cannot predict how long the hearing will last since both parties are expected to defend themselves.

“There is no time limit. The claims of the complainants have to be proven and the candidate will also have to defend himself. It would take as long as it takes but of course, we want to expedite the resolution of the case,” he said.

Asked if the decision will be out before the campaign period, the Comelec spokesperson said, “We will find out.”