POSTSCRIPT / May 26, 2022 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Where will DQ cases vs Marcos take us?

Processes that impact the May 9 election results and the ensuing six years are simultaneously ongoing: the canvassing of the votes for president and the Supreme Court hearing on petitions to disqualify Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as a presidential candidate.

Comelec previously dismissed three consolidated disqualification cases against Marcos Jr. for lack of merit Photo: CNN Philippines

Where will the two raging currents – one pushed by voter mega-power and the other by the quiet majesty of the law  – meet and eventually take us?

We consulted some knowledgeable friends, including a retired Supreme Court magistrate on the issues and options. We share here some of our notes before they are overtaken by events.

For backgrounder, there are two sets of disqualification cases appealed by certiorari from the Commission on Elections to the SC on the theory that the Comelec gravely abused its discretion in its en banc rulings on these two sets of cases.

The first set is on the cancellation of the Certificate of Candidacy of Marcos on the ground that he falsely represented himself to be eligible for the position of president.

If this was granted by the Comelec, and affirmed by the SC, Marcos would be a non-candidate because his CoC is null and void from the beginning since he would legally have no CoC. Moreover, he could not be substituted.

The second is that he is disqualified from running because he had been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude. If this was upheld by the Comelec and affirmed by the SC, he would be ousted from his candidacy but could be substituted by one who bears the same surname, like Liza Marcos or Imee Marcos.

If granted, the first would mean that Marcos was never a candidate because he had no CoC. The second assumes he had a CoC but that he personally could not use it for running. Thus, his name could be substituted, and all votes cast for him would be counted in favor of his substitute.

Both of these pleas were denied first by the Comelec divisions and later affirmed by the Comelec en banc after the May 9 elections.

The aggrieved parties then filed the petitions for certiorari in the SC with prayers for preliminary injunctions to stop Marcos’ proclamation by the Congress. The SC issued a perfunctory resolution requiring comment from the Comelec and from Marcos, without necessarily giving due course to the petition and ignoring the prayer for preliminary injunctions.

It’s uncanny that what the retired SC justice whom we consulted said coincides with what former Chief Justice Art Panganiban wrote in another broadsheet on the nature and consequences of the appeals pending in the SC.

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The consensus of those we have asked is that the SC will dismiss the petitions for having become academic, and that the right remedies of the aggrieved parties are quo warranto by the proper candidate (meaning essentially Leni Robredo) and/or an election protest also by the candidate claiming to have won.

Even as the national canvassing showed yesterday that Marcos is headed for a majority win, his closest rival Robredo has held back conceding defeat.

Where would Marcos take this country of more than 110 million Filipinos, more than 31 million of whom appeared to have voted to gamble with the golden tomorrow painted in the dark skies by Marcos?

At this point, however, it seems nobody really knows what’s next. Even Marcos himself does not look like he has a ready road map showing where and how he would take the nation from 2022 to 2028.

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With Robredo still in the United States with her daughters, we asked her election lawyer Romy Macalintal if and when his client would concede. We failed to get a definitive answer.

There were reports Tuesday that Robredo had conceded, apparently an interpretation of a statement of Macalintal based on what Robredo had told her supporters on May 10 about the “need to accept the decision of the majority.”

We pressed him – to no avail – if it was true that Robredo has conceded defeat. Part of our text exchange:

RM: I did not say Leni concedes — I merely read her statement she “accepts majority’s decision”.

FP: Has VP Leni Robredo conceded she lost in the May 9 presidential election?

RM: Not lost but accepts the results — she did not lose. It was the people who lost her.

FP: When can we expect her finally conceding defeat?

RM: She was not defeated but she accepts the results.

FP: So she is not conceding YET having lost the election to Marcos?

RM: All I know is she accepts the results — I just read her msg as is in Tagalog which I emailed to you – let’s stick to it — I cannot speak for her.

FP: If the official canvass results show she lost to Marcos – that’s the time she will concede?

RM: I don’t know boss.

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The winner in a presidential election is not determined by the loser’s conceding, but is proclaimed by the senators and congressmen convened in joint session as the National Board of Canvassers.

In the Philippines, it is not unusual for a loser, especially in a bitterly fought contest or where there was rampant cheating, to refuse to concede defeat. (We’re not saying that Robredo has not conceded because she was cheated.)

As we said, more in a light vein, in our Postscript last May 17, nobody in the Philippines loses an election, he/she is only cheated.:

After the presidential election in 2004, Fernando Poe Jr. did not concede to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Instead, he filed an election protest. Until he died on Dec. 14, 2004, he refused to concede losing to GMA.

In 2010, Joseph “Erap” Estrada conceded to Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino. The second placer in the race, Estrada was the last candidate to concede. All other opponents of Aquino conceded even before the election results were certified.

In the 2016 election, Mar Roxas conceded to Rodrigo Duterte the day after the election. Roxas, who finished second, was the second candidate to concede, after Grace Poe.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 26, 2022)

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