MANILA, Philippines – A group of Martial Law survivors appealed to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to resolve as soon as possible the disqualification case they filed 87 days ago against late dictator’s son and presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The petition submitted to the poll body by Pudno nga Ilocano – whose lawyer is constitutionalist and former Comelec chairman Christian Monsod – remains pending with commissioners Socorro Inting and Rey Bulay, who comprise what is now called the Former Second Division.
In the petitioners’ Urgent Motion to Resolve on Friday, March 4, they warned of issues that may arise should the disqualification petition remain unresolved by election day.
They cited Rule 25 Section 5 of the 1993 Comelec Rules of Procedure, which states that the person who gets the highest number of votes in the elections is at risk of having their proclamation suspended, if the evidence of guilt against them is strong, despite the unresolved status of the petition against that person.
“[We] most respectfully pray that this Honorable Commission resolve the petition in this case soonest,” said the petitioners of the Salandanan vs Marcos case, which was filed with the poll body on December 7, 2021.
The final arguments on the case were submitted by both parties on January 17, after which the petition was considered submitted for resolution in the Comelec’s Second Division at the time.
Inting, a member of that division, has since transferred to the First Division, but because the case was raffled before the Comelec reshuffling on February 9, the case remains assigned to her and Bulay.
Comelec Resolution No. 10765, promulgated on February 23, states that commissioners, upon the retirement of a colleague in their divisions, have only 45 days to resolve pending cases assigned to their divisions.
But petitioners asked the Comelec to start the 45-day count from January 17. Going by that plea, the petition should have been resolved on Thursday, March 3.
“The [Former] Second Division of the Honorable Commission still has two of the three original members, who received all submissions on this case, and are therefore competent and equipped to decide and rule on the case without further delay,” the motion read.
“Whatever the decision of the Honorable Commission may be, it is likely that it will be elevated to the Supreme Court. It would be in the interest of the country that the Supreme Court decides the appeal before the elections,” it added.
Bulay and now-acting chairperson Inting, as well as the two other remaining commissioners, are all appointees of President Rodrigo Duterte.
In a press briefing later on Friday, Inting appeared unaware of the petition, and said the case has “not come up for deliberation.”
“I am not aware of that case, but as chairman, I will direct the clerk of the commission to advise the ponente whose identity I don’t know to fast-track the resolution of that case,” she said.
Slow pace in resolving anti-Marcos cases
The Comelec is moving at a snail’s pace in dealing with the disqualification saga against Marcos Jr., compared to how the poll body handled the petitions seeking to block the 2016 presidential bid of Grace Poe who was the front-runner at the time.
In December 2015, the Comelec en banc had cleared its desks of anti-Poe petitions after only 68 days. By March 2016, the Supreme Court had concluded that Poe was allowed to seek the country’s top post.
For the anti-Marcos cases, the Comelec is now taking twice as long. As of writing, it has been 143 days since the poll body received its first petition against the former senator’s candidacy.
Below is the list of unresolved petitions against Marcos Jr. in the en banc as of late February:
- Lihaylihay vs Marcos (petition to declare nuisance) – junked by the Comelec Second Division, subject to en banc review
- Buenafe et al vs Marcos (petition to cancel certificate of candidacy) – junked by the Second Division, subject to en banc review
- Ilagan et al vs Marcos, Akbayan et al vs Marcos, Mangelen vs Marcos (consolidated disqualification petition) – junked by the First Division, subject to en banc review
Most of the petitions against Marcos Jr.’s candidacy are centered on his tax conviction in the 1990s.
The prolonged resolution of the anti-Marcos cases has opened the floodgates to multiple scenarios, such as what would happen if Marcos Jr. is disqualified before election day, or if he wins in the polls but is disqualified by final judgment after he is proclaimed president.