With Marcos DQ saga not over, Comelec vows to expedite rulings on ‘major cases’

Dwight de Leon
With Marcos DQ saga not over, Comelec vows to expedite rulings on ‘major cases’

EN BANC. Six of the seven-member Comelec en banc are present during the welcome ceremony for the new officials on March 9, 2022.

The now-complete Comelec en banc wants to hit the ground running, and act urgently on 'cases of national importance,' as well as requests from exemption from the election ban
With Marcos DQ saga not over, Comelec vows to expedite rulings on ‘major cases’

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) vowed on Thursday, March 17, to expedite petitions pending with the institution, including a high-profile case seeking to block the candidacy of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

With all seats in the seven-member en banc already filled, elections chief Saidamen Pangarungan’s order is to clear the poll body’s desks of unresolved cases, Comelec Commissioner George Garcia said.

“Please be assured, I will commit to you, when it comes to major cases of national importance, transcendental importance, without referring to whatever case that may be, that will affect the conduct of elections, the en banc will immediately resolve these cases,” Garcia told reporters during a press conference.

With Marcos DQ saga not over, Comelec vows to expedite rulings on ‘major cases’

Garcia added that the ponente has agreed to speed up the release of the ruling on the Salandanan vs Marcos petition “and all other cases.”

Salandanan vs Marcos is a disqualification petition against Marcos Jr. filed by a group of Martial Law survivors, whose lawyer is former poll chairman Christian Monsod.

The petition, which like other anti-Marcos cases cites the former senator’s tax conviction in the 1990s as basis for his disqualification, has been pending with the so-called former 2nd Division, composed of commissioners Socorro Inting and Rey Bulay.

The Salandanan vs Marcos case was filed in December 2021. It was considered deemed submitted for resolution on January 17, or 60 days ago, as of this writing.

Aside from the Salandanan vs Marcos case, three anti-Marcos petitions are also the subject of en banc review.

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
  • Buenafe et al vs Marcos (petition to cancel certificate of candidacy) – junked by the Second Division
  • Ilagan et al vs Marcos, Akbayan et al vs Marcos, Mangelen vs Marcos (consolidated disqualification petition) – junked by the First Division

Without a Comelec en banc decision, appeals cannot be made to the Supreme Court, which is expected to rule on the matter with finality.

It has been 157 days since the Comelec received its first anti-Marcos petition. In comparison, back in 2015, the poll body was able to clear its desks of cases seeking to block the 2016 presidential bid of Grace Poe after only 68 days.

Requests for exemption

The Comelec is also firm on its promise to decide urgently on requests for exemption from the election spending ban.

The Omnibus Election Code generally prohibits the use of government offices’ budgets to boost the campaign of candidates. 

“We will expedite rulings on petitions for exemption, fund releases covered by the ban, especially fund releases of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Health,” Pangarungan said in Filipino.

But how about a similar request from the Vice President Leni Robredo’s office to let them continue their pandemic response projects despite a spending ban?

“Using my name, my integrity intact, I can guarantee you it will be acted [upon] the soonest,” Garcia promised.

The Office of the Vice President filed its request with the Comelec on January 18, or 59 days ago, as of this writing.

Without clearance from the Comelec, Robredo’s coronavirus relief initiatives remain suspended for now. –

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers local government units and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.