By John Victor D. Ordoñez
A GROUP of taxpayers has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the proclamation of Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., who is set to win this year’s presidential election by a landslide.
In a 70-page petition dated May 16, Fides M. Lim, Ma. Edeliza P. Hernandez, Celia Lagman Sevilla, Roland C. Vibal, Josephine Lascano and Catholic priest Christian B. Buenafealso asked the tribunal to stop lawmakers from counting the votes for the son and namesake of the late dictator, saying he is unfit to become president.
The plaintiffs seek to overturn a Commission on Elections (Comelec) ruling allowing Mr. Marcos, better known as “Bongbong,” to run for president on May 9, accusing him of lying about his qualifications. They also cited his conviction by a trial court for tax evasion in the 1990s.
“The Comelec is under a legal duty to cancel thecertificate of candidacy of anyonesuffering from the accessorypenalty of perpetual specialdisqualification to run for publicoffice by virtue of a finaljudgment of conviction,” they said.
“For all intents and purposes but more relevantly in relation to the cancellation of Marcos Jr.’s certificate of candidacy for president, [he] is a convicted criminal,”they added.
They said the election body had gravely abused its authority by failing to disqualify Mr. Marcos despite his conviction.
“Thelaw itself bars the convict fromrunning for public office, and thedisqualification is part of the finaljudgment of conviction.”
“The petition is reflective of the unacceptability of yet another Marcos regime despite getting more than 31 million votes,” Kontra Daya lead convenor Danilo A. Arao said in a Facebook Messenger Chat.
The Comelec full court earlier affirmed a Second Division ruling that said Mr. Marcos did not mislead the public when he said in his certificate of candidacy that he was eligible to run for president. It also threw out several appeals that sought to disqualify the leading presidential bet due to his conviction.
“In view of respondent Marcos Jr.’s materialmisrepresentations in his certificate of candidacy (COC), this court must cancel or deny due course tohis COC, declaring the same void ab initio,” the plaintiffs said in its lawsuit.
“Respondent Marcos, Jr. must be deemed to have neverbeen a candidate from the very beginning, his candidacyinvalidated, and the votes attributed to him considered stray,” it added.
The en banc earlier affirmed a ruling by Commissioner Aimee P. Ferolino, who in February said there is no law punishing one’s failure to file income tax returns.
Retired Election Commissioner Maria Rowena V. Guanzon had accused her of delaying the case so her vote for disqualification would not count. She also said a senator from Davao was meddling in the case.
Marcos spokesman Victor D. Rodriguez told a press briefing on Tuesday the petitioners should “learn to respect the will of the people” since the Comelec full court had unanimously ruled in Mr. Marcos’s favor.
Both houses of Congress are set to count the votes for president and vice-president race on May 23.
Mr. Marcos is set to win by a landslide and clinch a remarkable comeback for his family, which is still facing court cases involving ill-gotten wealth and unpaid taxes.
He will be the first candidate to win a majority in a Philippine presidential election since his father’s two-decade rule.
Mr. Marcos fled into exile in Hawaii with his family during a February 1986 “people power” street uprising that ended his father’s autocratic 20-year rule. He has served as a congressman and senator since his return to the Philippines in 1991.
“The possibility of the incoming Vice-President Sara Duterte-Carpio copying the path of a nine-year presidency forged by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be hard to ignore,” Michael Henry LI. Yusingco, a senior research fellow at the Ateneo de Manila University Policy Center, said in a Facebook Messenger chat.
“The chatter about this possibility will only increase as disagreements between the tandem become evident and this is an issue that citizens must watch closely.”
Ms. Arroyo as vice-president succeeded then President Joseph E. Estrada after his ouster by a popular street uprising in January 2001, three years short of the single six-year term of a Philippine president. She served six more years as president after winning in 2004 amid allegations of cheating.
“The Marcos presidency will always be questioned from day 1 and the incoming administration should not expect any political honeymoon, even from journalists who still remember the repression characteristic of martial law,” Mr. Arao said.
“A campaign strategy hinged on disinformation will always have detractors among truth-seekers and the call for unity will remain an empty rhetoric,” he added.
The Senate and House of Representatives are expected to convene in a joint session on May 24 to canvass the votes for this year’s presidential and vice-presidential elections.