POSTSCRIPT / December 26, 2021 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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A Marcos-Robredo showdown in 2022

AS the year 2021 that is about to end has not been easy for most of us, we pray for discernment and courage as we prepare to elect in May 2022 another president, a vice president, a dozen senators, a full House of Representatives, among other officials.

The official campaign starts Feb. 8, but there are already partisan activities leading to May 9, Election Day – when the nation votes and decides if it will remain in the hands of inept and corrupt nominees of political dynasties or elect reformists attuned to true public service.

The latest survey of Pulse Asia shows ex-senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. ahead in the presidential race, getting 53 percent of the 2,400 respondents against the 20 percent of Vice President Leni Robredo. This is the first time that anyone had garnered a poll majority.

If the son of the former dictator maintains his big lead, he would be able to recapture the presidential palace that his family abandoned in 1986 as they fled in panic to Hawaii at the height of the People Power Revolt.

But a statistical detail cautions that it may not be that easy for Marcos to sweep the election that is still five months away even if he and Robredo generally maintain their early campaign momentum.

From the rear of the pack, Robredo sprung to second place, next to Marcos, after capturing a 20-percent share – from her 8 percent in the previous September survey where her scores across regions and economic classes ranged from 8 to 12 percent. In this latest survey conducted nationwide Dec. 6-11, her range across classes improved to 10 to 25 percent.

Robredo’s regional percentages have shot up since September in the National Capital Region (to 14 from 10 percent), Balance Luzon (24 from 8 percent), Visayas (25 from 10 percent), and Mindanao (10 from 4 percent).

Across classes, her standing also improved: ABC (to 24 from 8 percent), D (19 from 8 percent), and E (21 from 11 percent).

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NO wonder, Robredo’s spokesman Barry Gutierrez said that her big jump is a “definitive affirmation of the energy and momentum of the people’s campaign that emerged” after she declared her candidacy.

He said the 2022 elections loom as the final showdown between Marcos and Robredo, who dueled in 2016 for the vice presidency. The dispute triggered by Marcos’ protest of his defeat, went all the way to the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

After more than four years of hearings, the PET threw out with finality Marcos’ protest on Feb. 16 this year.

“We are confident that in the next four months, VP Leni’s consistent, hands-on leadership and the enthusiastic efforts of our volunteers, will continue to broaden and increase her support,” Gutierrez said.

Some of the factors that may have influenced respondents in the survey were the decision of some aspirants not to run for president. In September, Pulse Asia listed Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, Sen. Grace Poe, and Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano as possible presidential bets. They did not pursue a presidential run.

Among the top news current during the survey was President Duterte’s saying that Marcos was a weak leader and that an unnamed presidential aspirant was a cocaine user. Also, several petitions had been filed with the Commission on Elections for Marcos’ disqualification.

In NCR, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso led Robredo 17-14 percent. He also scored close to her among the poorest voters with 14 percent in Class E to Robredo’s 21 percent. He has scored the best among those trailing Marcos and Robredo.

“Should their (poll respondents’) original pick for president end up not pursuing his/her candidacy, 23 percent of those with a first choice for the post would instead vote for Domagoso,” Pulse Asia speculated.

Sharing second place in terms of second-choice voting figures were Lacson (17 percent) and Robredo (14 percent), while in third place were Pacquiao (11 percent) and Marcos (11 percent).

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THE COMELEC has ordered Marcos to answer the disqualification cases filed by martial law survivors led by Bonifacio Ilagan, Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party, and Abubakar Mangelen, who claims to be the chair of the Partido Federal ng Filipinas that nominated Marcos.

The poll body has received memoranda filed by Marcos and the petitioners to cancel his certificate of candidacy or declare him not qualified to run for president. Preliminary conferences for the cases are set for Jan. 7, 2022.

Marcos through his lawyers led by Estelito Mendoza, who was the Solicitor General during the late dictator’s martial rule, pointed out that he had filed his CoC many times in various elections and his eligibility was never questioned.

He said the Supreme Court has the exclusive jurisdiction to decide qualification issues of presidential bets. For a misrepresentation to be material it must pertain to the candidate’s eligibility for public office, he said, adding that there must be “a prior authoritative finding” of Marcos’ ineligibility, which is not the case presented by the petitioners.

Marcos’ submission also mentioned a point put forward by the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas in an answer-in-intervention that was not allowed by the Comelec – that the 1977 National Internal Revenue Code did not impose “perpetual disqualification” as a penalty.

This was part of PD 1994 that took effect on Jan. 1, 1986, under which, Marcos said, the mandatory filing of Income Tax Returns for the years 1982 to 1985 lapsed before PD 1994 took effect. Applying it would give the law an ex post facto effect, which is unconstitutional, he said.

For the ITR filing for the year 1985, Marcos said he was already out of government and forced to leave the country.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of Dec. 23, 2021, under the head “It’s a BBM-Robredo showdown in 2022”. Updated by the author on Dec. 26, 2021.)

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