MANILA — The extension granted to presidential aspirant Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. to answer the case lodged against him before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should be revoked, a group of petitioners said in a motion filed Friday, calling the order by the poll body's second division "blatantly contrary to law."
The Comelec second division on Nov. 18 granted an unprecedented extension to the Marcos camp to answer the petition filed by civic leaders led by Christian Buenafe seeking to cancel his certificate of candidacy (COC).
But according to the petitioners represented by lawyer Ted Te, the extension should not have been granted in the first place.
"First, Sec. 4 (6) of Rule 23 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure, as amended by Comelec Resolution No. 9523 provides for no ground for any extension of time. It provides for no leeway and no discretion," they said.
To the petitioners' view, the "extension" was actually a "new period" considering there was nothing to extend when the second division's order was handed down.
The "non-extendible" 5-day deadline for the Marcos camp to answer the petition lapsed on Nov. 16 or 2 days before their motion for extension was granted.
"The Order dated 18th November effectively granted a new period to respondent... Without a period to extend, the Order dated 18th November must be read as one that grants a new period to the respondent," according to the petitioners.
Petitioners stressed that Marcos' failure to file his answer within the said period is effectively a waiver on his right to respond.
"The failure of the respondent to file his verified answer within the reglementary period shall bar the respondent from submitting controverting evidence or filing his memorandum," the petitioners' motion stated.
By asking to revoke the extension, the petitioner effectively wants to bar Marcos camp from "submitting controverting evidence and from filing
his memorandum pursuant to its Rules of Procedure."
However, the Marcos camp already filed its verified answer on the same day the motion for reconsideration against the extension was filed.
The Buenafe et al. petition urged Comelec to cancel Marcos' COC for material false representation. In his COC, Marcos said he was not convicted of any offense carrying a penalty of perpetual disqualification from public office.
The petition cited his 1995 tax case conviction by a Quezon City trial court for non-payment of deficiency income taxes and non-filing of income tax returns from 1982-1985.
The ruling was modified by the Court of Appeals (CA), which acquitted Marcos in 1997 of non-payment of taxes, while affirming his conviction on non-filing of tax returns.
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.
The Marcos camp has repeatedly labeled the petitions "nuisance" and "trash" orchestrated by critics.