By Joselle Dela Cruz
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) confirmed that the poll body’s Second Division has granted the appeal of presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos to extend the deadline to answer the petition against his presidential bid.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said on Thursday that the Marcos’ camp has been given until Nov. 22 to respond.
Jimenez refuted earlier a claim by Marcos spokesperson Vic Rodriguez that the extension had been granted as early as Wednesday.
“Getting word that Comelec second division just now issued an extension in the cancellation case against former Senator Marcos. 5 days. But since the 5th day falls on a Sunday, last day is actually 22 Nov,” said Jimenez in a tweet.
Rodriguez said in an interview with CNN Philippines that the Comelec had already granted their motion and given seven more days.
Theodore Te, the lead counsel for the civic groups who filed the petition, also confirmed that he received the notice by email that Comelec indeed granted Marcos’ plea for extension.
Te said they will submit their disagreement with Comelec’s order including the questions about the news statements made earlier.
“Just received by email (2:53 p.m.) official notice of what was alluded to this morning by a lawyer who is not counsel of record. We disagree with the order and will register our disagreement appropriately with the Comelec, including questions about the news statement earlier made,” Te said in a tweet.
“The Comelec has emailed its official issuances to me, pursuant to its rules. Have not received any order granting the respondent's MOTEX by email. So, it is surprising that one who is not even counsel of record would make such a claim,” Te added.
Earlier today, Te said Marcos’ legal team has not filed its verified answer to the first petition to cancel his certificates of candidacy and instead requested to extend the deadline.
According to Te, the Comelec directed Marcos to submit his answer within an “inextensible period” of five days from the receipt of the notice dated Nov. 11. Marcos acknowledged receiving the notice and leaving him until Nov. 16 to submit.
Marcos neither submitted his answer to the Comelec nor was his motion to extend the Nov. 16 deadline for it granted, said Te.
“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,” said Te in a tweet on Thursday.
According to Sec. 4(6) of Rule 23 of Comelec: "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 Comelec has yet to explain why the Marcos’ camp got the information ahead of the petitioners and the poll body’s spokesperson.
Disqualification case against Marcos
The petition filed by civic leaders on Nov. 2 argued that Marcos’ COC for president contains “multiple false material representations.”
Atty. Grace Salonga of Movement Against Disinformation said there’s an enumeration of cases that could be considered as cases involving moral turpitude, one of which is tax evasion.
“It’s not just a simple omission, there’s really willfulness, even if he explained that he was abroad at that time, I believe that that is not an excuse. considering that the case was filed sometime in 1991, instead of fighting, he should have corrected, he should have filed, kasi he was flagged already,” said Salonga in an interview with Now You Know.
“Taking a look at the overall circumstances, you really see a person who appears to skirt around the law if he has the opportunity and because of that, I can’t imagine na why we would have a president in his person,” Salonga added.
The petition cited a 1995 ruling finding Marcos guilty of failure to file his Income Tax Returns from 1982 to 1985 and was fined.
Salonga mentioned that the cancellation case was stronger than the disqualification case.
“The stronger one is really the cancellation. Because what he did is really a misrepresentation… it’s based on material misrepresentation, in the form, he was asked whether he has been convicted of any offense carrying the penalty of disqualification from running from public office,” said Salonga.
Salonga said she cannot imagine having a president like Marcos considering the laws he violated.
“Despite all the evidence against them, despite all the laws against them, despite everything, they still managed to evade that. So, I think, he sees this as nothing different… That kind of impunity, familiarity, how our justice system works,” she said.