Confident manghula? Comelec spokesman says Marcos camp only guessed about plea grant

Aleta Nieva-Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 19 2021 12:07 PM | Updated as of Nov 19 2021 12:17 PM

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MANILA - A spokesman of the Commission on Elections claimed Friday the Marcos camp merely guessed when they announced on TV that the poll body would grant their plea for extension to reply to the petition seeking to cancel the certificate of candidacy of presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

“Whether or not the lawyers for Senator Marcos actually had a piece of paper saying that there was an extension at the time they said it, I sincerely doubt it because that official announcement came out in the afternoon after I had said that there was no such thing,” said Comelec spokesperson Dir. James Jimenez.

On ANC’s Headstart, Jimenez said the Comelec’s 2nd Division decided to grant the extension around midday Thursday. But Marcos’s spokesman Atty. Vic Rodriguez had announced in the morning that their request for extension was already granted.

Jimenez earlier criticized the Marcos camp's announcement, saying the petition had not been granted "until around 250 in the afternoon." 

"I think he was talking out of his hat. He was saying something basically anticipating the decision of the Comelec and perhaps stating it as fact," he said. 

“I think in this case, this particular lawyer felt strongly enough that they were gonna get it and made an announcement along those lines doesn’t necessarily means that he had any inside information,” he added.

Jimenez also believes that having confidentiality rules is not necessary. 

“I think it is simply ethical if you’re running a judicial or quasi-judicial authority that you of course not leak your decisions ahead of time. I think that’s simply ethical. Whether or not staff had access to this information, that is a different story. As far as Comelec is concerned, I don’t think we have such a major problem with that since this is happening only in this particular case. But again, as I’ve said, until I see proof otherwise, to me the simplest answer would be that he called it correctly,” he said.

He added: "Maybe he felt confident enough to know that the decision come very early or that it would come out in their favor.” 

The Comelec case against Marcos stemmed from the petition filed by Task Force Detainees of PH, KAPATID, Medical Action Group, FIND, PH Alliance of Human Rights Advocates and Balay. It questioned Marcos' eligibility to run for the country's top job because he has been convicted of tax evasion.

“One of the thing I’ve been hearing is that a protest or an appeal would be filed against the extension. I think that would be an opportunity for all parties involve to find out if in fact Atty. Vic Rodriguez was speaking from personal knowledge or whether or not he was simply being the lawyer that he is,” he said.

On the issue of Comelec’s inextendible rule, Jimenez explained that it is a procedural rule intended to facilitate the resolution of cases.

“It’s a rule that ultimately is left up to the discretion of the commission, I think, to be strict about or to be lenient about considering the particular circumstances of any particular case,” he said.

Atty. Theodore Te, lawyer for petitioners from various human rights groups, earlier said they opposed the Motion for Extension of Time and requested the poll body to observe its own rules.

“Petitioners reminded the Comelec that the consequence of granting respondent’s motion for more time would be for the Comelec to flout its own rules, which the Supreme Court had already ruled in previous instances as grave abuse of discretion,” Te said in a statement on Thursday.

Jimenez said Te can raise the argument before the Commission.

“The Commission, in its deliberation, I’m sure will take that into consideration and then we’ll talk about what the Commission decides to do on that point. But right now, again, if it’s brought before the Commission then the Commission would have to make a decision and in this case apparently it did,” he said.

Jimenez said there are now 4 cases filed against Marcos before Comelec.