“How will the people decide?”
The images are still vivid in my mind. On that fateful night of February 25, 1986, when the Oligarch-led Yellows finally succeeded in vilifying and deposing former President Ferdinand Marcos. Of course, they couldn’t have done that without the help from the Left, whose leaders they have in collaboration ever since, but had just committed a strategic blunder when they were at the end game, deciding to boycott the snap polls.
Thus, while the Yellows were partying on the streets, the Left were on the sidelines, crying their hearts out. But nevertheless, they have succeeded in ousting the Marcoses, having pictured them as nothing but evil.
Fast forward to 2022 or 36 years later. Majority of the Filipinos (if we are to believe all the survey results) are again in a party mood. However, this time, the theme has been reversed. If the 1986 street party was an Oligarch-led Yellows celebration for ousting a Marcos, this time it’s for putting his only son, Bongbong, to the seat of power. As has been indicated in all survey results, BBM is on the verge of becoming a majority president in the Post-EDSA era. And there could be no stopping him from claiming victory on May 9 this year.
Except for one thing – if the Commission on Elections decides to douse cold water on would-be-party goers by disqualifying the frontrunner for this year’s presidential race.
Early this week, Commissioner Rowena Guanzon of the Comelec’s First Division said she will be releasing their decision on the petition for the cancellation of BBM’s certificate of candidacy anytime from today until January 17.
For the record, there are still six petitions pending before the Comelec either questioning BBM’s eligibility to run for president, or outrightly seeking his disqualification, all zeroing in on his supposed conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude for his failure to file his income tax returns from 1982 to 1985.
But not only his lawyers, but even legal experts supposedly allied with his critics have all declared the petitions have no basis since BBM’s conviction by a Regional Trial Court which carried a penalty of imprisonment has been overturned by the Court of Appeals, which only ordered a payment of fines, which has already been settled.
BBM was only imposed a ‘fine’ (Section 252 of NIRC), and not ‘perpetual disqualification’ (Section 254 of NIRC).
BBM’s camp has already presented proof he has already paid the fine as ordered by the CA.
Actually, this is not the first time the Comelec had decided a disqualification case for a presidential candidate based on political doctrine and not on the basis of legal technicalities. It had done so in 2016 and it involved President Rodrigo Duterte.
That time, there were petitions asking the poll body to cancel Duterte’s CoC for president, saying Martin Diño as standard bearer of the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan for whom he was substituting, filed a CoC as mayoral candidate for Pasay City and not for president.
So, how could Duterte then run for president if there was no CoC to substitute for?
However, the Comelec decided to ignore that saying Diño’s intent to run for president was clear despite his error.
Clearly then, the Comelec gave more weight to the political issue as Duterte was then leading in the political surveys, and not on the legal matters.
Incidentally, Guanzon was also a member of the Comelec’s First Division which ruled in favor of Duterte then.
So, will the Comelec assume the role of a party spoiler? I highly doubt it. Just like what they did in the Duterte disqualification case in 2016, they will let the people decide on this matter come May 9.