MANILA — Petitioners against the presidential bid of former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. will appeal to the Supreme Court the Commission on Elections en banc’s decision junking their cases, their lawyers said Wednesday.
“We are ready to bring this matter to the Supreme Court and pursue this to its rightful legal end,” lawyer Howard Calleja, who represents Martial Law survivors, said in a statement.
Asked about the timeline of their filing, Calleja told ABS-CBN News: “next week for sure.”
Calleja is the lawyer for the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA) led by martial law survivor Bonifacio Ilagan, which sought to disqualify Marcos on the basis of his 1995 tax conviction.
The group argued Marcos was convicted of tax evasion and should be disqualified from running because the offense amounted to a crime involving moral turpitude.
They also cited a Tax Code provision perpetually disqualifying a public official from serving in government post if convicted of a tax offense.
But the Comelec en banc on Tuesday affirmed the ruling of its divisions in the 3 disqualification cases and 1 case for the cancellation of Marcos’ certificate of candidacy, saying petitioners “failed to raise new matters.”
Based on a 1997 Court of Appeals decision, the Comelec en banc said Marcos was convicted of non-filing of income tax returns, which, unlike tax evasion, is not a crime involving moral turpitude.
Comelec commissioners also ruled, voting 6-0 with Commissioner George Garcia inhibiting, that the perpetual disqualification provision in the Tax Code took effect only in January 1986 and will not apply to Marcos.
And while petitioners insisted Marcos should have been sentenced to 18 months in prison, the poll body said there was no such penalty imposed in the regional trial court and Court of Appeals rulings.
COMELEC EN BANC RULING CONDEMNED
Both Calleja and CARMMA condemned the Comelec ruling and the timing of its release on Tuesday or the day after the May 9 polls, when the poll body previously said it will resolve pending appeals before the elections.
“The Comelec decision comes as no surprise but just confirms the sad state and confidence we can give them. Not only did they uphold a questionable ruling but it again unduly delayed its release,” Calleja said.
“By junking our motions for reconsideration in the disqualification petitions against Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc has only affirmed what we have suspected all along, that it was simply bidding time to uphold the lies and historical distortion of the Marcoses and preempt our next move,” CARMMA said in a statement.
“But we are determined to file our case with the Supreme Court and assert that a convict, liar, and tax evader like Marcos Jr. should have never been allowed to run for public office, let alone the highest position in the land,” it added.
CANCELLATION OF COC APPEAL
Meanwhile, former Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te, the lawyer for civic leaders who sought to cancel Marcos’ COC allegedly for lying under oath, said they “are preparing to go up,” referring to the high court.
He confirmed receiving a copy of the Comelec’s denial of their motion for reconsideration on Tuesday.
“We have 30 days but we will file sooner than that,” he told ABS-CBN News, although he refused to give a timeline as they are “still drafting” the appeal.
Akbayan, another petitioner, earlier said it will appeal the poll body’s decision junking its disqualification case.
"We will pursue this case to its logical and just conclusion. We know that the law is on our side. We will not allow Marcos Jr. to sleep soundly," it said in a statement Tuesday.
As of May 11 at 3:17 p.m., Marcos obtained 31.083 million votes, holding a commanding lead over Vice President Leni Robredo’s 14.811 million votes, with 98.28% of the precincts accounted for, based on partial unofficial tallies from Comelec’s transparency server.
FROM THE ARCHIVES