In answering the petition to cancel the certificate of candidacy or COC of presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, his lawyers told the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to take judicial notice of the fact that the son of dictator has already served government in various elective posts.
“It is relevant and the Commission can take judicial notice that the respondent had previously been elected to several elective positions in government specifically governor of Ilocos Norte, member of the House of Representatives, and member of the Philippine Senate,” said the verified answer filed by Marcos’ legal team, lead by Marcos-time solicitor general Estelito Mendoza, on Friday, November 19.
The argument that Marcos already served in various posts is addressed in another petition filed belatedly by the group of 1Sambayan convenor Howard Calleja, but Comelec is yet to make a ruling if it will grant their group’s motion to join the first petition.
In the Calleja petition, they cited a ruling from the Supreme Court disqualifying a convicted official even though that official had already served a previous term as mayor.
The Marcos camp’s answer was short, only five pages, where they sought the outright dismissal of the petition to cancel his COC, citing the lack of a specific allegation of misrepresentation.
Any petition to cancel COCs should be based on “material misrepresentation” on the part of those who filed their candidacies. The petition’s main premise is that Marcos misrepresented his 1997 conviction of failure to file income tax returns when he indicated in his COC that he has not been found liable of a crime that involves moral turpitude, or of a crime that perpetually disqualified him.
The petition argued that the tax code imposes perpetual disqualification for any kind of offense in the code.
Mendoza, a veteran litigator with a stellar win record in the Supreme Court albeit being suspected of irregularity, said in the answer that “a cursory reading of the petition will show that the petition is bereft of any specific allegation of a material misrepresentation required under Section 74 of the Omnibus Election Code.”
Section 74 defines in three long paragraphs the supposed contents of the COC, and the petition argued that Marcos violated the provision that says “the certificate of candidacy shall state that a person filing… is eligible for said office.”
The petition said the 1997 conviction made him ineligible, and that was the misrepresentation.
The Marcos camp also requested the Comelec for face-to-face oral arguments, instead of a virtual hearing, over the petition to cancel his COC.
“On the matter of hearing the petition, considering the petition refers to the highest elective position in government and calls for the participation of the people in general, that the petition be heard by face to face argument instead of a virtual or video conference,” said the answer.
Marcos faces three petitions to cancel his COC, one petition to disqualify him, and another petition to declare him as a nuisance candidate.
Marcos’ answer was filed three days past the original deadline on November 16, but the Comelec’s Second Division had granted an extension, which is being challenged by the petitioners led by former Supreme Court spokesperson Ted Te in a motion for reconsideration filed Monday, November 22.
Comelec rules’ says the five-day period in answering a petition to cancel a COC is “non-extendible.”
“The [Comelec 2nd Division] Order effectively granted a new period to respondent. There is nothing in the Rules of the Commission that allows this,” said the petitioners’ motion.
The petitioners also questioned how Marcos’ spokesperson Vic Rodriguez said in a morning interview on November 18 that their motion for extension was already granted the day before, when Comelec’s spokesperson said no resolution had been promulgated at that time. The formal resolution would be formally served to parties afternoon of November 18.
Rodriguez earlier told reporters, “what’s wrong with that?”
“With due respect, this Commission has motu proprio powers to direct the respondent’s spokesperson to explain the suggestion that he has undue, intimate, insider familiarity with the Commission,” said the motion for reconsideration.
“There is more at stake than a false public statement made by someone who is not a counsel of record, therefore an outsider, in this case. There is the very credibility of this Commission; there is the very credibility of the process of vetting aspirants for elective public office; there is the very credibility of the elections itself,” said the motion. – Rappler.com