Inhibit from Marcos COC case review, 3 Comelec execs told
MANILA, Philippines — For betraying their “bias,” three commissioners of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) were asked to inhibit themselves from a review of their decision to dismiss the petition seeking to cancel the certificate of candidacy (COC) of former senator and presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
On Monday, the group of anti-Marcos regime activists that filed the petition, led by Task Force Detainees of the Philippines chair, Fr. Christian Buenafe, appealed the Jan. 17 decision of the Comelec’s Second Division in Marcos Jr.’s favor.
They sought the inhibition of the three commissioners who make up the Second Division and asked the rest of the seven-member Comelec to cancel Marcos Jr.’s COC, saying the late dictator’s son and namesake was barred from public office for life due to his tax evasion conviction in 1995.
Refuting the conclusion reached by the Second Division, the petitioners said Marcos Jr. committed misrepresentation in his COC when he declared that he had never been found liable for any offense which carried the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
“Considering that the Second Division’s questioned resolution is to be reviewed not only for error in its content but also for possible grave abuse of discretion amounting to manifest bias, … it is proper and ethical that the members of the Second Division … be mandatorily inhibited from participating in its review,” the petitioners said in their motion for reconsideration.
They also asked the Comelec sitting as a whole to look into the use of “intemperate and improper language” by the Second Division and the “presence of bias” among the three members.
“Parts of the questioned resolution read like a litigant’s pleading in tone and references while other portions employ words and qualifiers that should not form part of the vocabulary of an independent tribunal,” the petitioners said.
Due to retire
The Comelec’s Second Division is presided over by Commissioner Socorro Inting with Commissioners Antonio Kho Jr. and Rey Bulay as members.
It is also handling one of four pending disqualification cases against Marcos Jr. based mainly on the same ground—that he has been perpetually disqualified from holding public office due to his tax offense conviction.
Commissioner Rowena Guanzon presides over the First Division, whose other members are Commissioners Marlon Casquejo and Aimee Ferolino.
Comelec Chair Sheriff Abas presides over the Comelec en banc (full court). He, Guanzon and Kho are due to retire in February.
According to Guanzon, Inting, being the next most senior member, will temporarily serve as Comelec chair until President Duterte appoints Abas’ replacement.
Marcos Jr. was convicted by a Quezon City Trial Court for not paying taxes and filing income tax returns from 1982 to 1985 when he was Ilocos Norte vice governor during his father’s regime.
On Marcos Jr.’s appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) in 1997 set aside the conviction for failure to pay taxes along with the penalty of imprisonment, but upheld his conviction for failure to file tax returns and ordered him to pay his tax liability and fine.
In its ruling, the Comelec’s Second Division said Marcos Jr. did not commit any misrepresentation in his COC since the CA was “correct” in not imposing the penalty of perpetual disqualification from public office.
But according to the petitioners, Marcos Jr.’s conviction for violation of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) “automatically brought about the consequences provided therein—that he [would be] perpetually dismissed from holding any public office, [barred from voting] and … participat[ing] in any election.”
They also argued that the CA “did not have to” explicitly write the penalty of perpetual disqualification in its decision, saying Section 286 of the NIRC imposed the penalty for public officials convicted of tax offenses. INQ
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