Civic leaders on Monday, January 24, formally asked the Commission on Elections en banc to reverse the Comelec 2nd Division’s ruling which junked their petition to cancel the certificate of candidacy (COC) of 2022 presidential aspirant and ousted dictator’s son Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
In their 24-page motion for partial reconsideration, the petitioners lawyered by former Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te also requested that the members of the Comelec’s 2nd Division mandatorily inhibit from the en banc review after the decision supposedly showed “possible grave abuse of discretion amounting to manifest bias on the part of its participants.”
The Comelec’s 2nd Division is composed of a panel all appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte: commissioners Socorro Inting, Antonio Kho Jr., and Rey Bulay.
“The tone, references, and the gratuitous accusations against petitioners and their counsel by the 2nd Division in its questioned resolution certainly go beyond the pale of sober and impartial adjudication and partake of of partisan collaboration that is utterly destructive of due process,” the petitioners wrote.
‘False material representation’
Petitioners asserted that the 2nd Division “grievously erred” when it found that Marcos Jr. did not commit any material misrepresentation in his COC, despite claiming in his candidacy papers that he had not meted the penalty of perpetual disqualification.
The division had said there was also no attempt from Marcos’ end to deliberately attempt to mislead or misinform, which would otherwise render him ineligible.
But Te’s camp said Marcos Jr. cannot feign ignorance about the legal effects of his conviction for violating the amended tax code when it became final in 2001.
The amended tax code had an accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from public office, they insisted.
They asserted there was no need for the Court of Appeals to specify such a penalty in its 1997 ruling.
“He fully participated throughout the entire proceedings before the trial court all the way up to the Supreme Court, which escalation he would eventually withdraw,” petitioners said. “Marcos Jr. cannot belatedly deny knowledge of the proceedings.”
‘Marcos a public officer until March 1986’
The 2nd Division had also said that the amendment in the tax code that made perpetual disqualification a penalty for public officials who are tax convicts became effective only in 1986. He was no longer a public official when he was required to file his income tax return in March 1986, the division also found.
But the petitioners said Marcos’ status as a public officer in March 1986 is an “incontrovertible fact” that has been settled by the courts, and for the 2nd Division to reach a different conclusion is “highly irregular.”
The petitioners also questioned the 2nd Division’s finding that the amended tax code penalty cannot be imposed on Marcos Jr. because he abandoned his elective post at the heels of the EDSA uprising, which kicked out his father from Malacañang.
“‘Abandonment of office or position’ is itself a felony under the Revised Penal Code. It is exceedingly ludicrous for the 2nd Division to invoke the commission of a felony on behalf of the offender as a defense against a penalty prescribed by law for another crime he has already been convicted of,” they said.
Future of the case
The future of the petitioners’ appeal is up in the air, as the composition of the Comelec en banc remains fluid.
Kho, as well as Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas and 1st Division presiding Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, are all set to retire in February.
With Guanzon’s retirement, the Comelec will be composed of all Duterte appointees next month.
The 1st Division has also yet to release its single ruling on three consolidated petitions against the former senator, leaving the public to guess how the division would appreciate the arguments in connection with Marcos’ tax conviction.
In total, the public can expect three more decisions on anti-Marcos cases at the division level, as of writing.
The Marcos camp has expressed confidence the legal challenges against Marcos’ candidacy will be junked.
“The petitioners’ mere creativity for writing and wanting what is not written in the law as basis to cancel the certificate of candidacy of presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos is way too frivolous and unmeritorious to override the basic precepts of the Constitution,” Marcos’ spokesman Vic Rodriguez said on January 17. – Rappler.com