Marcos Jr.’s snub of disqualification hearing angers Comelec chief 

Bongbong Marcos Jr. (Photo by FB Social Media)

His failure to attend the disqualification hearing against him last week was a point against presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon was visibly irked when Marcos Jr.’s lawyer claimed the candidate was sick but provided no medical certificate to prove the same.

Worst of all, the camp of Marcos Jr. offered no valid reason to explain why he could not even show up via Zoom.

Netizens laughed off the claim of his lawyer that Marcos Jr. did not want to spread whatever illness he was suffering from by going online.

The preliminary hearing last January 7, was for the disqualification case against the son and namesake of the late dictator. It was intended to give Marcos Jr. as well as the petitioners for his disqualification an opportunity to formulate their interpretation of the issues relevant to the case.

One of Marcos Jr.’s lawyers said their client could not attend the meeting in person or via Zoom as he was under the weather.

To this claim, the Comelec chief asked: “He is sick, okay, (but) where is his medical certificate?”

Guanzon added: Why was it hard for (former) senator Marcos to go on video? He can do that on his phone.”

Lawyer Hanna Barcena told Guanzon that the previous night, “a physician saw him and they will issue a medical certificate within the day.”

What was later presented to the poll body was a virtual copy of the medical certificate.
As for Marcos Jr.’s absence from the hearing, Barcena said that she could legally represent her client since the December 20 summons issued to the candidate stated that only the respondent or his authorized counsel should be present during last Friday’s conference.

A later summons dated December 29, however, was presented by Genesis Gatdula, Comelec clerk of the Commissioner, that required all parties involved to take part in the proceedings. This was interpreted to mean that Marcos Jr. had to be present at the preliminary hearing, either in person or online.

The medical certificate provided by the Marcos Jr. camp showed that the candidate had a low- grade fever and sore throat as of January 6.

He is suspected of having caught the Omicron strain of COVID-19 as he reportedly had direct contact with two persons who later tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the medical certificate read by Gatdula.

Last Friday’s initial hearing was actually a consolidation of two disqualification cases against Marcos Jr.

Aside from the consolidated case, the candidate still faces separate cases for the cancellation of his Certificate of Candidacy (COC).

The disqualification case was filed by survivors of the victims of the late President Ferdinand Marcos’s martial law regime. They claim that Marcos Jr. was an active participant of that regime as proven by his wearing a military uniform when the Marcos family was evicted from Malacañang as a consequence of the 1986 People Power revolt.

Marcos Jr. was also charged and convicted of tax evasion when he failed to file his income tax returns when he served as governor of Ilocos Norte in the early ‘90s.

His camp produced a document ostensibly proving that Marcos Jr. had paid his tax arrears as well as penalties due the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). But retired Supreme Court associate justice Antonio Carpio said the fines should have been paid to the trial court that ruled on Marcos Jr.’s tax case, not to the BIR.

The Quezon City regional trial court had issued certifications that there was no record of Marcos Jr.’s compliance with the Court of Appeals decision affirming his conviction and calling for his payment of penalties due.

Under Carpio’s interpretation, Marcos Jr. is perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

The disqualification case is expected to be resolved at the division level this week.
Should the Comelec disqualify or cancel his COC, Marcos Jr. is expected to elevate his case to the Supreme Court.