Comelec accused of 'grave abuse of discretion' for upholding pro-Marcos order

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 25 2021 05:45 PM

Former senator Ferdinand
Former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. faces several cases before the Comelec seeking to bar his 2022 presidential bid. ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) committed "grave abuse of discretion" when it allowed presidential aspirant Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. to answer a petition against him beyond the initial "non-extendible" deadline, according to the petitioners in a strongly-worded pleading made public Thursday.

"For the Commission to allow the violation of its own rules, and to anchor its justification on its power to suspend its own Rules... is plain and simple grave abuse of discretion," according to the Bill of Exceptions filed by Theodore Te, representing civic leaders led by Christian Buenafe.

Te's objection stemmed from the decision of Comelec second division, helmed by commissioners Antonio Kho Jr. and Socorro Inting, to uphold its unprecedented extension granted to Marcos, citing its "authority to suspend... rules in the interest of justice."

In the Bill of Exceptions, Te found "no such demonstrable merit or justifiable cause or circumstance" for the second division to grant Marcos' appeal for extension, and for Comelec to "give in" means it tolerates their "naked indolence."

"The conduct of petitioner and his counsel can never be a case of excusable neglect. On the contrary, it smacks of a blatant disregard of the rules and lawful directives of the court. Thus, giving in to petitioner's maneuvering is tantamount to putting premium on a litigant's naked indolence and sanctioning a scheme of prolonging litigation," Te said.

In a press conference, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez addressed criticisms it gave Marcos camp "special treatment." 

Justifying the second division's order, Jimenez said Comelec can "disregard" existing procedures."

"The Comelec does have the authority to disregard procedural rules which is normal, even the courts do it... Yun lang naman yun eh, there was no special treatment there and in other cases it has been done," Jimenez said. 

The Buenafe, et al petition pending before the Comelec second division seeks the cancellation of Marcos' certificate of candidacy (COC) over alleged material misrepresentation. 

Overall, there are 5 separate petitions before the Comelec seeking to block Marcos' attempt for the country's top post.

The Marcos camp has repeatedly labeled the petitions "nuisance" and "trash" orchestrated by critics. 

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