COVID delays Comelec decision on Marcos disqualification

David Dizon, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 17 2022 09:57 AM | Updated as of Jan 17 2022 12:27 PM

Watch more News on iWantTFC

MANILA (2nd UPDATE)—The Commission on Elections First Division's decision on the disqualification cases against presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has been delayed due to illness.

Comelec Director 3 Elaiza Sabile David said staff members of one of the Comelec commissioners handling the petitions against Marcos have tested positive for COVID-19. 

"Unfortunately, wala pa po dahil hindi pa ready 'yung draft," David said in a TeleRadyo interview.

"Kasama na rin po 'yung lawyers po sa office ng Commissioner kung sino 'yung ponente po, nagkasakit so medyo tinamaan din ng COVID. Magkakaroon po ng delay po sa paglabas ng decision ng promulgation," she added.

"Priority muna ang pagpapagaling ng kanilang staff."

Presiding Commissioner Rowena Guanzon earlier said a resolution of the First Division will be released around January 17.

On Monday, she denied that one of the Comelec commissioners tested positive for COVID-19. 

"Not true that Comm of First Div has COVID, but in isolation due to close contact with COVID positive staff," she said in a Twitter post.

Marcos, the frontrunner for the May 9 election according to opinion polls, is facing at least six complaints urging Comelec to bar him from running, mainly over a 1995 tax evasion conviction.

Aides to Marcos, 64, have rejected the petitions as propaganda aimed at discrediting him.

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. 

BALLOT FACE

In the interview, David disclosed that the ballot face, which shows the final list of candidates for national and local positions, was already final.

"Final na po ang ballot face as of today. In fact, ready na po talaga siya and for uploading na po sa website anytime po today," she said.

The names of candidates with pending disqualification cases like Marcos Jr. will remain in the ballot, David said.

"Kung dapat na pong mag-print at meron pa pong pending, 'yung pong mga pangalan ng mga kandidato ngayon na meron pa pong kaso na pending masasama na po sila sa printing," she added.

Should these candidates be disqualified before the May 9 polls, David said their votes would be considered stray votes.

The Comelec is targeting to start printing of ballots this week.

David also reiterated that the poll body had launched a platform that will provide free livestreaming of e-rallies for national candidates.

The e-rallies will be conducted every night through Facebook starting Feb. 8.

She said every night there would be 3 slots for a 10-minute e-rally for candidates for president and vice president. —With a report from Reuters