THE PHILIPPINE poll body has granted the request of the late dictator’s son, Ferdinand R. “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., to give him more time to answer a petition challenging his presidential candidacy.
Mr. Marcos, a former senator, was given five more days to answer the petition filed by civic leaders seeking to cancel his candidacy papers for president, said Commission on Elections (Comelec) Spokesman James B. Jimenez on Thursday.
The poll body official made the statement hours after he refuted a claim by the camp of Mr. Marcos that his motion for extension had been approved by election authorities.
“Getting word that Comelec (Second Division) just now issued an extension in the cancellation case against former Senator Marcos,” Mr. Jimenez tweeted. “Five days.”
Since the fifth day falls on a Sunday, the last day would be Nov. 22, he added.
The original deadline for Mr. Marcos to submit a response was Nov. 16.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Jimenez said no decision had been promulgated by the poll body’s second division, which is composed of Commissioners Socorro B. Inting and Antonio T. Kho, Jr.
Mr. Inting was an appellate court justice, while Mr. Kho used to be a Justice undersecretary.
The first legal complaint against Mr. Marcos’ presidential run mentioned that he is ineligible to run for public office after a trial court convicted him in 1995 for failing to pay income taxes, a crime that bars the offender from any government post.
The complaint cited material misrepresentation in his candidacy papers when he wrote that he was eligible to hold public office.
The Comelec on Nov. 11 issued summons to Mr. Marcos, giving him an “inextendible period” of five days to file his answer to the plea.
Mr. Marcos filed an extension motion on Nov. 15, which was opposed by petitioners on Nov. 17.
The petitioners in their Nov. 17 motion asked the poll body to observe its own rules and uphold the mandatory and peremptory character of extendible periods, their legal counsel Theodore Te said in a statement on Thursday.
Mr. Marcos should not be allowed to submit controverting evidence since he did not comply with the poll body’s summons, the petitioners’ lawyer argued, citing election rules.
Meanwhile, Mr. Jimenez said separately in a media briefing that the late dictator’s son is now facing four legal complaints blocking his presidential candidacy.
The fourth petition seeks to declare Mr. Marcos as nuisance candidate, he said.
Martial law victims on Nov. 17 filed a disqualification case against Mr. Marcos, asserting that he is disqualified from holding any public office, to vote, and to participate in any election as he was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating the National Internal Revenue Code.
A group of professionals filed a petition to intervene in the first legal complaint against the candidacy of Mr. Marcos, who held local posts before he was elected as a senator in 2010.
The Philippine poll body has set Nov. 26 for the preliminary conference on the first petition against him. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza