Comelec denies motion questioning extension of time for Marcos to answer DQ petition

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 25 2021 12:01 PM | Updated as of Nov 25 2021 04:24 PM

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. gives a speech announcing his intention to run for the presidency in the 2022 national elections on Oct. 5, 2021. Handout, Office of Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr.
Ferdinand Marcos Jr. gives a speech announcing his intention to run for the presidency in the 2022 national elections on Oct. 5, 2021. Handout, Office of Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr.

MANILA — The Commission on Elections' Second Division has denied a motion for reconsideration questioning the extension granted to presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. to answer the petition seeking to cancel his candidacy.

In its decision issued Tuesday but only made available Thursday, the Second Division invoked Section 4, Rule 1 of the 1993 Comelec Rules of Procedures to suspend its rules "in the interest of justice".

"The Comelec therefore has authority to suspend the reglementary periods provided by the rules in the interest of justice and speedy resolution of the cases before it," the decision said.

“Under this authority, the Commission is similarly enabled to cope with all situations without concerning itself about procedural niceties that do not square with the need to do justice, in any case without further loss of time, provided that the right of the parties to a full day in court is not substantially impaired."

The petition, which seeks to cancel Marcos' certificate of candidacy for president, was filed by civic leaders led by Christian Buenafe.

The Comelec Second Division noted that the case is "best decided" if parties were able to "ventilate their claims, present arguments and adduce evidence."

The decision also said that the petitioners did not suffer any damage since Marcos filed his answer on Nov. 19, three days before the expiration of the extension given.

In response to Comelec’s denial of their motion, the civic leaders filed on Wednesday a "Bill of Exceptions," saying no amount of “interest of justice” can justify Marcos' "brazen disregard of the system of laws, much less the suspension of the rules to accommodate such brazen disregard."

The petitioners also pointed out that at the core of their petition to cancel Marcos’ COC was his “temerity” to disregard the country's laws.

"Despite full knowledge of his criminal conviction and its consequences, he deliberately misled, misinformed and deceived the electorate when he publicly and falsely declared that he is eligible for the office he seeks, and that he has not been convicted of any offense that carries the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification to hold public office," they said.

The civic leaders also refuted the Comelec's remark that they did not suffer damage. Up until the filing of their Bill of Exceptions and two days from preliminary conference, they have yet to receive a copy of Marcos’ verified answer, they said.

Vice President Leni Robredo, a rival of Marcos for the presidency, said she hopes all candidates would get equal treatment.

"Kung ano iyong extension na binibigay, hindi lang dito sa isyung ito, pero kung ano iyong privileges na binibigay sa isang kandidato, dapat sa iba ganoon din," said Robredo, who defeated Marcos in the 2016 vice presidential race. 

(Whatever extension is given, not just for this issue, but whatever privileges are given to one candidate, it should be the same for others.)

On Nov. 16, Marcos' camp filed a motion for extension after the Comelec issued summons four days earlier, giving them a non-extendible deadline of five days to respond to the petition.

There are five petitions at the Comelec seeking to block Marcos' attempt for the country's top post: three for the cancellation of COC, one for declaration as nuisance candidate, and a petition for disqualification. 

Human rights advocates and survivors of the martial rule are among petitioners against Marcos, namesake son of the late dictator.

The Marcos camp said the petitions against him are nuisance.

—With a report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

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