Biased? Comelec defends commissioners after anti-Marcos petitioners’ swipe

Dwight de Leon
Biased? Comelec defends commissioners after anti-Marcos petitioners’ swipe
Anti-Marcos petitioners who filed an appeal with the Comelec en banc asked some commissioners to inhibit from the review due to their 'possible grave abuse of discretion' when they junked their case at the division level

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it stands by the integrity of its commissioners, after petitioners in a case against the candidacy of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. accused the 2nd Division of “manifest bias” when it junked their petition.

“The Comelec takes exception to such characterizations,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez told reporters at the start of his virtual press briefing on Tuesday, January 25.

“[We note] that before her appointment to the Comelec, Commissioner [Socorro] Inting actually had 20 years of judicial experience,” Jimenez added, referring to the ponente or the person who wrote the dismissal order on the petition to cancel Marcos Jr.’s certificate of candidacy (COC).

The petitioners, whose lawyer is former Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te, had requested in their motion for partial reconsideration to the Comelec en banc that Inting and the two other members of the 2nd Division inhibit from the en banc review, citing “possible grave abuse of discretion” in the handling of the case.

“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 partisan collaboration that is utterly destructive of due process,” the petitioners wrote in their January 24 plea.

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The January 17 ruling promulgated by the 2nd Division said the petitioners were “clutching at straws,” and used adverbs such as “desperately” and “shamelessly” to describe their efforts to make their case.

The Comelec’s 2nd Division is composed of Inting, Antonio Kho Jr., and Rey Bulay – commissioners all appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Inting and Kho both hail from Mindanao, while Kho and Bulay are both Duterte’s fraternity brothers. Inting was previously a judge of the Court of Appeals; Kho, a former justice undersecretary; Bulay, Manila’s former chief prosecutor.

Jimenez said it is up to the three whether they will inhibit from the en banc review.

“Whether or not anyone will inhibit is really up to the person whose inhibition is being sought,” Jimenez explained.

Central to the original petition which the 2nd Division junked was the argument that Marcos committed material misrepresentation in his candidacy papers when he claimed he had not been meted the penalty of perpetual disqualification.

Biased? Comelec defends commissioners after anti-Marcos petitioners’ swipe

Te’s camp, in their appeal, 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.

The Marcos camp, for its part, has consistently described the petition as mere nuisance and propaganda orchestrated by critics. –

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers the House of Representatives and the Commission on Elections for Rappler. Previously, he wrote stories on local government units.