Lawyer believes COC cancellation bid vs Marcos may reach Supreme Court

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 19) — A veteran lawyer believes that the petition challenging the presidential candidacy of Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. may eventually be elevated to the Supreme Court.

Atty. Theodore Te, lead counsel for the first group of petitioners seeking to cancel Marcos' certificate of candidacy (COC), told CNN Philippines' The Source on Friday that the matter may be taken to the high court regardless of whose side will be favored by the Commission on Elections.

"To our mind, the ground is quite simple, quite straightforward: Material misrepresentation. That is the ground," he said.

"Therefore, if Comelec agrees with us, the respondents (Marcos camp) will go up. If Comelec does not agree with us, we will probably go up to the Supreme Court," he added.

Te's group said in their petition dated Nov. 2 that Marcos' COC contains "multiple false material representations," including his assertion that he is eligible to seek the presidency despite being convicted for failing to file income tax returns (ITRs) when he was Ilocos Norte governor and vice governor.

Te said it is up to the poll body whether it would consider Marcos' failure to file his ITRs as a crime involving moral turpitude.

"It will become a judicial issue eventually but what will become a judicial issue will depend on how Comelec will decide," he added.

Former Justice Secretary Alberto Agra said he sees no defect in Marcos' COC as the case filed against him only points to his failure to file his ITRs and this does not count as a crime involving moral turpitude.

RELATED: Legal experts see weakness of petitions for Marcos disqualification 

Under the Omnibus Election Code, a candidate's COC may be canceled if the person is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude or found guilty and punished with more than 18 months of imprisonment.

Marcos' camp earlier said the petition was another attempt by political opponents to "cheat," just like what they supposedly did when Marcos lost his vice-presidential bid in 2016.

READ: Marcos camp denies 'tax evader' claims, says 'yellow wannabes' using Comelec in petition 

Marcos is currently facing four petitions questioning his candidacy, two of which are cancellation bids. Te's group came with a petition-in-intervention by a group of taxpayers, while another cancellation petition was filed by independent presidential aspirant Tiburcio Villamor Marcos.

A group of martial law survivors filed earlier this week a disqualification bid against Marcos, also citing his conviction. Independent presidential aspirant Danilo Lihaylihay also filed a petition to declare Marcos as a nuisance candidate.