MANILA (UPDATED) — In an unprecedented move, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday gave the camp of presidential aspirant Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. a 5-day extension to answer the petition seeking to cancel his certificate of candidacy (COC).
The Comelec, particularly the second division, granted the motion for extension filed by the Marcos camp, represented by legal powerhouse Estelito Mendoza.
The Marcos camp on Nov. 16 filed a motion for extension after the Comelec issued summons on Nov. 12, giving them a non-extendible deadline of 5 days to respond to the petition that would ultimately prevent the late dictator's son from joining the presidential race in 2022.
"Given the fact that... a justification was found in the motion for extension to file an answer, the Comelec second division grants [motion] of respondent," the order read.
Earlier, Marcos' spokesman appeared to have obtained information about the division's decision even before it was formally handed down.
This prompted Comelec spokesman James Jimenez to call out the Marcos camp over its pronouncements.
The second division is composed of commissioners Socorro Inting and Antonio Kho Jr.
Marcos Jr., in a text statement, stated that “all pieces of evidence and legal arguments in our hands clearly show that the petition against my candidacy is nothing but trash.”
There are now 5 pending petitions before the Comelec seeking to block Marcos' attempt for the country's top post: 3 petitions for the cancellation of COC, one petition for declaration as nuisance candidate, and a petition for disqualification.
Human rights advocates and Martial Law survivors were among the recent group of petitioners.
These cases were based on alleged material misrepresentation. In his COC, Marcos Jr. said he was not convicted of any offense carrying a penalty of perpetual disqualification from public office.
Marcos' spokesperson, lawyer Vic Rodriguez, echoed Marcos Jr.'s statement.
“Lahat ng petisyong ito ay basura... lahat ng petisyong ito basura. Wala hong kaso. Walang kaso ito ay purpose lamang ay pabagalin lamang ang kampanya, guluhin ang isipan ni presidential aspirant ni Bongbong Marcos," Rodriguez said.
(All of these petitions are trash. There's no case. The only purpose of these petitions is to slow down Marcos' campaign and disturb his thoughts.)
'VIOLATING OWN RULES'
Lawyer Ted Te, counsel of the petitioner, said they disagreed with the division's favorable order for Marcos.
"We disagree with the order and will register our disagreement appropriately with the Comelec, including questions about the news statement earlier made," Te said on Twitter.
Fides Lim, one of the petitioners who wanted Comelec to junk Marcos Jr.'s bid for president, questioned the commission's decision, noting that they are bending their own rules.
Te earlier said his reply to their petition was within an "inextendible period” of 5 days from its receipt of notice on Nov. 11.
"The deadline of November 16 has come and gone. In our Opposition to their motion for extension, we cited SC jurisprudence that procedural rules in election cases are designed to ensure the speedy determination of the popular will of voters," said Lim.
"By granting the motion of Bongbong Marcos, is not Comelec violating its own rules? Why?"