'No intention to deceive': Comelec junks petition seeking to cancel Marcos' certificate of candidacy

Jauhn Etienne VIllaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 17 2022 11:25 AM | Updated as of Jan 17 2022 05:00 PM

Former senator Bongbong Marcos speaks with the members of the press after filing his certificate of candidacy (COC) for the 2022 presidential election at the Harbor Garden tent of the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City on October 06, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Former senator Bongbong Marcos speaks with the members of the press after filing his certificate of candidacy (COC) for the 2022 presidential election at the Harbor Garden tent of the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City on October 06, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (4th UPDATE) — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) Second Division on Monday junked a petition that sought to cancel the certificate of candidacy (COC) of presidential frontrunner Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., citing they found no intention on his part "to deceive the electorate."

The division, composed of commissioners Socorro Inting, Antonio Kho Jr., and newly-appointed Rey Bulay, denied the petition filed by civil society leaders who accused the late dictator's son of lying in his COC. 

The ruling, written by Inting, said Marcos "did not deliberately attempt to mislead, misinform, or deceive the electorate" when he declared in his COC that he is eligible for public office.

"[When] respondent declared in... his COC that he is eligible for public office for which he seeks to be elected, he was essentially speaking the truth," Inting said, rejecting the petitioners' argument that Marcos is perpetually barred from holding government post due to his conviction for failure to file mandatory income tax returns from 1982 to 1985. 

Inting added that the Court of Appeals' eventual ruling on Marcos' tax case did not categorically convict Marcos of a crime involving moral turpitude.

"There is likewise no definitive declaration by said decision that... respondent is perpetually disqualified from holding public office," Inting said.

The second division also said that the petition should have been summarily dismissed because it invoked grounds on both disqualification and cancellation of COC. However, they relaxed the rules and decided based on the merits of the case. 

Marcos is facing at least five other petitions urging Comelec to bar him from running, mainly over a 1995 tax evasion conviction. A separate Comelec division will decide on these petitions in the coming days. 

Marcos was convicted of non-payment and non-filing of tax returns from 1982 up to 1985.

PETITIONERS TO APPEAL 

In a statement, Ted Te, lawyer of the petitioners, said they will appeal the ruling before the Comelec en banc.

"Petitioners disagree with the Comelec in its ruling, among others, that the material representations made were not false and will seek reconsideration of the Resolution with the Commission En Banc within the five-day period provided under the Comelec Rules," Te said. 

KAPATID spokesperson Fides Lim, one of the petitioners, questioned the division's decision, calling it "very strange and contradictory."

"Very strange and contradictory that the Comelec Second Division opted to deny our petition yet agreed that the representations made in Item 11 of Box 22 of the certificate of candidacy of Marcos Jr. are material. What gives?" Lim said in a statement.

MARCOS CAMP THANKS COMELEC

Meanwhile, the camp of Marcos thanked Comelec for ruling in favor of the presidential aspirant.

"We thank the Commission on Elections for upholding the law and the right of every bona fide candidate like Bongbong Marcos to run for public office free from any form of harassment and discrimination," Marcos spokesman Vic Rodriguez said. 

The Marcos camp also called for "unity in ensuring a clean and fair 2022 elections."

“We are extending our hand of unity even to the fiercest of adversaries and invite them to work together in ensuring clean, fair, and credible elections as our initial collective contribution towards nation-building for the future of our people, the Filipino children and the youth, and for our beloved Philippines to move forward," Rodriguez said.

In a statement, Malacañang said it respects the Comelec's decision because it "is an independent constitutional body."
 

Marcos' candidacy is considered the most legally-contested in recent election history. 

The Marcos camp has repeatedly labelled the petitions as "trash" and "nuisance" engineered by "yellow wannabe political assassins."

The Marcos family has long sought to rebuild its image and has repeatedly denied allegations that it plundered state wealth while in power, estimated in 1987 at $10 billion. 

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