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Martial law victims file petition to disqualify late dictator’s son

A DEMONSTRATOR holds a poster during a protest following the presidential bid announcement of Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ R. Marcos, Jr., son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, at the Commission of Human Rights in Quezon City on Oct. 6. — REUTERS

By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter

VICTIMS of the martial law regime of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos on Wednesday asked the country’s poll body to block his son’s presidential candidacy.

In their petition, the group that also includes civic and religious leaders pressed the Commission on Elections to disqualify Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. from running for president in the 2022 polls after a trial court convicted him in 1995 for failing to pay income taxes.

His conviction by a trial court was upheld by the Court of Appeals. He filed an appeal before the Supreme Court but later withdrew, the plaintiffs said.

The court ruling disqualifies him 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, they said.

The petitioners include Saturnino “Satur” C. Ocampo, Liza L. Maza, and Carol Pagaduan-Araullo, among other victims of the late dictator’s 14-year martial rule.

In a statement on Wednesday, Mr. Marcos said the petition to exclude his name from the list of applicants for the presidency is “without merit and has no legal basis.”

There are two other petitions separately filed earlier by civic leaders and professionals against Mr. Marcos seeking to cancel his candidacy papers for the country’s top post.

The Nov. 17 petition is the only complaint seeking to disqualify him from the presidential race.

All petitions cite material misrepresentation in the certificate of candidacy when Mr. Marcos wrote that he was eligible to run for public office.

A petition for cancellation of candidacy papers may only be filed during the filing period, while a motion for disqualification may be filed until the day of proclamation of results for the presidential election.

Mr. Marcos held local posts before he was elected as a senator in 2010. In the 2016 elections, he lost to Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo by a hair.

Lawyer Howard M. Calleja, one of the petitioners’ legal counsels, said just because his previous candidacies for public posts were never questioned before despite the conviction, it does not mean that the issue cannot be raised now.

“That is what we are correcting right now,” he said in Filipino. “We are not asking the Comelec to null and void (his presidential candidacy) because there is nothing to void to begin with.”

The Philippine poll body has set Nov. 26 for the preliminary conference on the earlier complaints filed against the late dictator’s son.

Meanwhile, Mr. Marcos vowed to continue President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s programs as he announced his alliance with the latter’s daughter, Davao City Mayor and vice-presidential candidate Sara Duterte-Carpio.

“Sa layuning naming dalawa na ipagpatuloy at palawigin pa ang mga magagandang nagawa ng pamahalaang Duterte ay sabay kami ngayong nanawagan na kapit-bisig lang po tayo sa pagtitiwala at pagsuporta sa liderato ng ating mahal na Pangulo (In our goal to continue and expand on the good programs of the Duterte administration, we appeal that we all be united in trusting and supporting the President’s leadership),” the former senator said in a statement.

Mr. Marcos registered his presidential candidacy in October, angering activists and victims of his father’s two-decade rule.

Ms. Duterte-Carpio formalized her vice-presidential bid before the Nov. 15 deadline for last-minute filers, prompting critics to say that her family might be doing everything to protect the patriarch from potential lawsuits.

On Tuesday night, Ms. Duterte-Carpio said her party Lakas-CMD had tried to form a coalition with the PDP-Laban faction led by a Cabinet official for a slate with Marcos, but the party declined the proposal.

The President’s daughter said she and the late dictator’s son will pursue a unifying leadership.

In the Philippines, the president and vice-president are elected separately and may come from opposing political parties.

Upon election, the vice-president usually becomes powerless unless given a key post in the Cabinet by the President.

Meanwhile, a PDP-Laban faction reiterated its full support for the presidential bid of Mr. Duterte’s long-time aide, Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” T. Go.

“We have towed the line and will support the candidacy of Senator Bong Go for president and President Rodrigo Duterte for senator,” a party official said in a statement.

Mr. Go, who initially filed his candidacy for vice president, will run for the country’s top post under a political party founded by an administration supporter in 2018.

Mr. Duterte, who has broken a vow to retire from politics next year, met with several lawmakers on Tuesday night.

His spokesman said it was an informal gathering and an opportunity for him “to see friends he had not personally seen since the onset of the pandemic due to the restrictions that had been put in place.”

“We expect the President to join similar gatherings with friends and allies in the future.”

Fitch Solutions Country Risk and Industry Research earlier said a possible shift to a “liberal” democratic presidency next year remains low, highlighting the potential for key Duterte policies such as the drug war to be continued.

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