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Philippine poll body faces favoritism claim

Election commission under fire for giving presidential candidate Marcos Jr. more time to respond to disqualification bid

UCA News reporter,  Manila

UCA News reporter, Manila

Published: November 18, 2021 09:09 AM GMT

Updated: November 18, 2021 09:19 AM GMT

Philippine poll body faces favoritism claim

Former Philippine senator Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr., son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, greets supporters after filing his candidacy for the country's 2022 presidential race on Oct 6. (Photo: AFP)

Philippine presidential frontrunner Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has been given an extension by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to explain why he should not be disqualified from next year’s election in a move that was condemned by his political opponents as an act of favoritism.

The son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos risks being disqualified after a petition challenging his eligibility was filed by martial law victims on Nov. 3.

They alleged that Marcos Jr. lied under oath when he filed his candidacy by saying he was not convicted of a crime.

Court records, however, revealed that Marcos Jr. was convicted in 1995 for not paying his taxes while serving as governor of Ilocos Norte province between 1982 and 1985.

Election rules say Marcos should have responded to the petition within a “non-extendable” 10-day period from the date of its submission but his lawyer Vic Rodriguez said the commission gave him a seven-day extension.

“Our motion for extension was approved yesterday,” Rodriguez told CNN Philippines on Nov. 18.

The consequence of granting Marcos Jr.’s motion for more time would be for Comelec to flout its own rules

It was claimed Marcos Jr. needed more time to respond because of his heavy workload.

Theodore Te, a lawyer representing martial law victims, condemned the move and accused the election commission of violating its own rules.

“The consequence of granting Marcos Jr.’s motion for more time would be for Comelec to flout its own rules, which the Supreme Court had already ruled in previous instances as a grave abuse of discretion,” Te said on Nov. 18.

The Catholic Lay Alliance in Manila’s Quezon City said voters must watch this development carefully to ensure that the scales of justice do not tilt in favor of the Marcos family unfairly.

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It said the extension suggested that such a tilt was in fact taking place and that money and influence was coming into play, especially so since Marcos Jr.’s running mate is the president’s daughter Sara Duterte.

The Marcos and Duterte families are among the most powerful political clans in the Philippines.

“Marcos for president, [Sara] Duterte for vice president. Any kind of influence the Marcoses and the Dutertes may exert on any government office for a favorable decision is very dangerous and threatens our democracy,” said one alliance member who wished to remain anonymous.

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