3 Marcos cases to watch
Worth watching are three Supreme Court cases that may change our political landscape. One may usher in the rehabilitation and glamorization of the martial law regime of Ferdinand Marcos, while two others may catapult Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to the vice presidency and eventually to the presidency. Or so his partisans hope.
Battle over burial. The first case involves several petitions to ban the burial of the former president’s remains in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. They rest on the unwritten yet underlying spirit animating the 1987 Constitution: His ouster by a direct act of the people shows his unworthiness to be honored in a cemetery that, by its very name, is reserved only for heroes.
In contrast, the opposing camp calls upon the plain letter of the law that allows the interment of presidents and soldiers without distinction on whether they were heroes or not. Dura lex sed lex, so they argue.
The Court issued a status quo ante order until Oct. 18, which was extended to Nov. 8. Definitely, the justices will be divided. Will they ultimately decide liberally or literally? We should know two days from now.
Battle over alleged fraud. The second is the election protest lodged by Bongbong Marcos in the Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, against Leni Robredo who beat him by a thin margin of 250,000 votes.
Alleging fraud, he protested the results in 39,221 clustered precincts spread in 25 provinces and five cities. He also denounced Smartmatic, which leased the vote-counting machines to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), for introducing a new hash code into the transparency server, which allegedly caused unauthorized changes in the vote count. The criminal aspect of this latter point was dismissed recently by the Manila Prosecutors Office. This dismissal is appealable.
Historically, no one has succeeded in unseating the proclaimed winner in the past presidential and vice-presidential races. The election protest of the late Miriam Defensor-Santiago in 1992 against President Fidel V. Ramos was dismissed for mootness after she ran and won as senator in 1995. Likewise, the protest of Mar Roxas in 2010 against Vice President Jejomar Binay was dismissed after he ran in the 2016 presidential election.
Conclusion: Regardless of the merit or demerit of the election protest, Bongbong has no immediate prospect of replacing Robredo as vice president via this tedious route.
Battle over Soce. The third is the petition of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to reverse the Comelec resolution that, by a 4-3 vote, extended the deadline for filing the statement of contributions and expenses (Soce) of political parties and candidates from June 8 to June 30.
Under Republic Act No. 7166, a candidate who fails to file his or her Soce within the prescribed period, whether as a late filer or as a nonfiler, will be fined and/or barred from “enter[ing] upon the duties of his office until he has filed” the required Soce. In either or both instances, the additional penalty of “perpetual disqualification to hold public office” will be imposed on a repeat offender.
Political parties which failed to file their Soce within the prescribed period are also liable to pay a similar fine. Further, and here is the kicker, Sec. 14 of RA 7166 prescribes an additional penalty, worded as follows: “The same prohibition shall apply if the political party which nominated the winning candidate fails to file” the Soce “within the period prescribed by this Act.”
Unquestionably, the Liberal Party filed its Soce only during the extension granted by the Comelec, not within the period prescribed by the Act. Ergo, the Marcos partisans claim, Robredo (and all other LP-affiliated senators, congressmen and other winners) should be disqualified perpetually, even though she timely filed her Soce as a candidate, and Bongbong should replace her pronto as vice president.
This claim is a major leap in law and logic, and deserves a column in the future. Meanwhile, readers may want to look at my piece titled “Soce extension abets impunity” (6/19/16).
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