Zoomicron? Comelec presses Marcos on medical certificate

Dwight de Leon

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Zoomicron? Comelec presses Marcos on medical certificate


1ST UPDATE. Marcos complies with the Comelec's requirement to submit a notarized medical certificate after skipping a hearing on disqualification cases against him
Zoomicron? Comelec presses Marcos on medical certificate

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) pressed Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday, January 10, for more solid proof that he was too sick to attend a recent hearing on cases to stop his presidential bid.

“Now I have to require the doctor who examined Marcos Jr. to have his medical certificate notarized and indicate his medical license number,” tweeted Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon on Monday.

Guanzon is the presiding commissioner, the most senior member, of the Comelec First Division, which is handling three petitions to stop Marcos’ presidential bid. She is also the lone Aquino appointee in the seven-member poll body, and is set to retire on February 2.

The Comelec Second Division is handling other cases against Marcos.

Online, Marcos is under fire after critics challenged the medical certificate he submitted to the Comelec. Netizens have tagged Guanzon, who is active on Twitter, to look into the matter.

The medical certificate was supposed to prove he was incapable of attending the Comelec hearing on Friday, January 7 – even via Zoom – due to fever and sore throat. Marcos’ physician, Benedict Francis Valdecañas, said Marcos had “difficulty in speaking due to a painfully congested throat” as of 10 am on Thursday, January 6.

Netizens, however, found out that Marcos accommodated a radio guesting at 4:45 pm on the same day. The Marcos camp later disclosed he also had a radio interview before his check-up.

Below is a timeline of events:

January 6

  • Before 10 am: Marcos pushed through with a radio guesting “despite feeling unwell,” said his spokesman Vic Rodriguez in a statement on Sunday, January 9.
  • Around 10 am: Marcos was checked by his physician, Valdecañas, who found that he had a low-grade fever and sore throat that caused “difficulty in speaking.”
  • 4:45 pm: Marcos accommodated a radio interview with Willie Delgado and Jorge Bandola on DZME.

January 7

  • 9 am: Marcos skipped the Comelec’s preliminary conference on the cases against his 2022 bid.
  • 9:50 am: Guanzon required the Marcos camp to produce a medical certificate. His lawyer Hanna Barcena said a doctor saw Marcos “last night” and their camp will submit a medical certificate within the day.
  • Around 11:30 am: The Marcos camp submits a medical certificate to the Comelec, with the doctor stating he was called by Marcos’ wife, Lisa, “to see him yesterday at around 10 am in his home.”

Below is a copy of Marcos’ medical certificate:

BODY MALAISE. Marcos’ medical certificate indicates he had a low-grade fever on January 6.

In requiring a notarized medical certificate, Guanzon was directly reacting to the Marcos camp’s statement which tried to explain the presidential aspirant’s radio guesting at 4:45 pm of January 6, even when he already had a fever of 37.8 degrees Celsius at 10 am.

“Mid-afternoon [on January 6], he went on with another radio interview. We believe it was that afternoon radio interview which exacerbated his condition,” Rodriguez said on Sunday.

Marcos has been in isolation since Friday after close contact with Rodriguez and another campaign staff who tested positive for COVID-19. As of Monday, Marcos has yet to announce whether or not he contracted the disease.

When the Comelec wanted Marcos to take part in Friday’s proceedings even just virtually, Rodriguez said their camp made “a judgment call… to let BBM continue with his needed rest.”

Marcos’ absence during the 9 am preliminary conference on Friday infuriated Guanzon, who cannot understand why the late dictator’s son cannot turn on his camera even just for attendance.

“We are afraid that he might cause the spread of the virus,” replied his lawyer Hanna Barcena, who was physically present during the meeting. Netizens have ridiculed that response online, saying that Marcos was afflicted with “Zoomicron,” a portmanteau of the videoconferencing software and the COVID-19 variant hounding the Philippines.

Even Guanzon got wind of the online humor. “No, I didn’t get hit by Zoomicron,” she said on Sunday, a day after revealing she was under the weather.

Zoomicron? Comelec presses Marcos on medical certificate

In preliminary conferences, the Comelec usually does not compel respondents to attend, a matter pointed out by Barcena on Friday by quoting the summons dated December 20, 2021.

But Comelec Clerk of the Commission Genesis Gatdula said another order issued on December 29 required the counsel and the parties to take part in the proceedings.

Marcos eventually submitted a notarized copy of his medical certificate on Monday, according to a Comelec matrix issued to the media on Wednesday, January 12.

Friday’s preliminary conference saw Guanzon quiz counsels of both parties about issues presented in the disqualification cases.

At the center of the legal challenge against Marcos is his tax conviction in the 1990s, which petitioners argue is a basis to disqualify him from the 2022 race under Philippine laws.

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Two cases – the one filed by Martial Law survivors, and another by party-list group Akbayan – were consolidated following the proceeding.

The petitioners and Marcos’ camp submitted their final position papers or memoranda on Sunday, or 48 hours after the preliminary conference.

Guanzon said the Comelec’s 1st Division will issue a ruling “around January 17.” –

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.