MANILA -- A Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner said Monday anyone who causes disruptions, or interrupts commissioners during the preliminary conference on the disqualification petition lodged by Akbayan Citizen’s Action Party, et al. against 2022 presidential contender Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. will be cited in contempt.
In a series of tweets, Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, the most senior member of the First Division handling the case, told the parties to observe proper decorum.
“Anyone who will disturb the proceedings on Jan 7. or interupt me or a commissioner will be declared in contempt and sent to Manila Jail for 48 hours,” Guanzon said in a tweet.
Guanzon said the conference will be livestreamed by the poll body's Education and Information Department.
Under Rule 29 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure, direct contempt may be meted by the poll body on a person, who, among others, is “guilty of misbehavior in the presence of or so near the commission or any of its divisions as to obstruct or interrupt the proceedings before it or them, including disrespect toward the commission or division.”
Such a person may be punished summarily by a fine not exceeding P200, or imprisonment not exceeding 10 days, or both.
This authority by the commission to hold a person in contempt rises from section 52 (e), Art. VII of the Omnibus Election Code, which grants the poll body the power to “punish contempts provided for in the Rules of Court in the same procedure and with the same penalties.”
In a previous tweet, Guanzon warned, “Don’t make us use it.”
“Follow rules, court protocol, health protocol. Do not attempt to speak while a commissioner or another lawyer is speaking. Never interrupt me.”
Lawyers “better stick to the facts and issues,” she added, warning against “grandstanding.”
The Akbayan petition, earlier described by Guanzon also in a Twitter post as “better than the others,” is one of six challenges against Marcos’ presidential bid, now pending with the Comelec.
The other five are:
1. Buenafe, et al. vs Marcos - Petition to cancel COC
2. Tiburcio Marcos vs Marcos - Petition to cancel COC
3. Ilagan, et al. vs. Marcos- Petition to disqualify
4. Mangelen vs. Marcos - Petition to disqualify and cancel CONA
5. Pudno Nga Ilocano vs Marcos - Petition to disqualify
Like most of the three other disqualification petitions and two certificate of candidacy cancellation petitions, the Akbayan petition argued that Marcos is perpetually disqualified from public office due to his tax case conviction in 1995, made final in August 2001.
Marcos was convicted of non-payment and non-filing of tax returns from 1982 up to 1985.
The ruling of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court was affirmed, in part, by the Court of Appeals (CA) in 1997. The CA reversed Marcos’ non-payment of taxes conviction.
The Akbayan petition stated that although Marcos’ non-payment and non-filing of ITRs was up to 1985 or a year before the perpetual disqualification accessory penalty took effect under PD 1994, filing of tax returns and payment of taxes for 1985 was due on April 15, 1986.
PD 1994, signed into law by Marcos’ father, the late strongman Ferdinand Sr., took effect in January 1986.
The Akbayan petition asserted Marcos was “committing the crime of non-filing of tax returns from Jan. 1, 1986 up to at least April 16, 1986,” while he was sitting Ilocos Norte governor.
Under the amended Tax Code, the perpetual disqualification penalty only rises in cases when the offender is a public official or employee.
The petitioners also argued that at the time the tax conviction was made final by the Supreme Court on Aug. 31, 2001, Marcos was again incumbent Ilocos Norte governor, and again, his conviction carried with it the accessory penalty.