No backing down for group behind junked petition to block Marcos candidacy

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines' January 25) — The group behind the junked petition to cancel the bid of presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos is not backing down after filing their plea to the poll body to reverse its ruling.

Former Supreme Court spokesperson Atty. Theodore Te, lawyer for the group of civic leaders challenging Marcos' bid, told CNN Philippines' The Source on Tuesday that the Comelec en banc's decision will ultimately reach the Supreme Court.

"Ito namang decision na ito hindi naman titigil sa en banc I'm sure. Regardless of how it will be decided, ang ultimate landing naman nito ay sa Supreme Court," he added.

(Translation: This decision will not end in en banc I'm sure. Regardless of how it will be decided, it will ultimately land in Supreme Court."

Te noted that simply denying one's knowledge of the consequences of tax violation does not necessarily exempt one from the law.

RELATED: LIST: Petitions against Bongbong Marcos' 2022 presidential bid 

"Nobody is spared. Ignorance of the law excuses no one from its consequences. Therefore, he (Marcos Jr.) should not be able to claim, as Comelec 2nd Division has said in good faith, hindi niya alam. Alam niya iyon," Te said.

Te's group earlier argued that Marcos was not qualified to run as he was convicted by a Quezon City court for his multiple failures to file income tax returns when he was governor and vice governor of Ilocos Norte. They also claimed that Marcos made false representations in his COC on his eligibility to seek the presidency despite his tax conviction.

But Commissioners Socorro Inting, Antonio Kho, and Rey Bulay of the Comelec 2nd Division ruled that Marcos can still run because the Court of Appeals did not impose the penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding any public office, voting, and participation in any election.

Te's camp then filed a motion for partial reconsideration to reverse the decision, noting that contrary to the division's finding, that penalty was not explicitly written because "the CA did not have to do so" — because it is automatically imposed under the Tax Code.

Te explained his group also wants Inting, Kho, and Bulay to be mandatorily inhibited from the review because they were supposedly biased towards the son of the late dictator.

"How can they be objective? They will always vote for the decision," he said. "Ang sinasabi namin, yung tatlo nagdecide na, yun yung posisyon yung apat na natitirang commmissioners forming the rest of the en banc, sila na dapat ang magdecide. Logical yun."

[Translation: What we're saying is that the three have already decided and that's their position. So the four remaining commissioners forming the rest of the en banc should be the ones left to decide. That's logical.]

If the request of Te's camp will be granted by the en banc, the three members of the Second Division will not be part of the review.

However, Kho, Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas, and Commissioner Rowena Guanzon are retiring by February. The poll body will then be left with Commissioners Marlon Casquejo, Aimee Ferolino, Rey Bulay, and Socorro Inting.

Te said it might not be possible to form a quorum to decide on the case, so the remaining en banc will have to wait until President Rodrigo Duterte appoints replacements before they decide on the matter.