Petitioners vs Marcos still optimistic about SC plea to stop canvassing

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 20) — Petitioners against the candidacy of presumptive next president Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. remain optimistic that the Supreme Court will grant their request to stop the canvassing of votes for the late dictator's son.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source on Friday, counsel Theodore Te said that despite the non-issuance as of now of a temporary restraining intended to stop the canvassing of votes, their petition cannot yet be rendered moot and academic, even if Congress is already set to convene as the National Board of Canvassers and start counting on Monday, May 23.

"I don't believe it is moot and academic because the court can still decide," Te said. "There have been instances in the past when the court has taken on a case even though it would appear on the face to be moot and academic and the court has decided on the issues as if they were viable issues."

On May 17, civic leaders petitioned the high court to cancel and declare void ab initio, or void from the beginning, Marcos' certificate of candidacy, in a bid to invalidate his presidential run and all the 31,104,175 million votes he received based on unofficial tally.

Te reasoned that they are asking for a "very narrow application of order" to stop the canvassing of votes for only one candidate.

"If it were any other person whose name appeared in the candidacy, ganun din ang gagawin galing sa division, paakyat ng en banc, paakyat ng Supreme Court, ganun talaga ang proseso (the process really starts with the division level, going to the en banc, then to the Supreme Court)," he said.

Te said the Supreme Court has also decided on the matter in other electoral races, but this is the first time that it will handle an issue involving the presidency.

"This issue is one that has been decided by the Supreme Court in other races, local, Congress, but it has never been decided as far as the presidency. This is the first," he added.

"Sa tingin namin, mahalagang umakto ang Supreme Court. Merong mga desisyon ang Korte Suprema tungkol sa role ng Comelec in relation to cancellation of COCs na ang sinasabi ng Supreme Court duty ng Comelec yan eh," he said. "Pag nakita nilang dapat ikansela, dapat ikansela na kahit walang nagfile ng petition."

[Translation: We think, it's important that the Supreme Court acts now. The Supreme Court has had decisions in the past related to the role of the Comelec in relation to the cancellation of COCs where they say it's the duty of the poll body to cancel a bid that is worth cancelling even without a petition.]

The petitioners first appealed before the Commission on Elections in November 2021 arguing that Marcos committed a crime of moral turpitude and perjury for making false representations in his certificate of candidacy on his eligibility to seek the presidency despite his tax conviction. The plea was junked in the division and en banc level.

The camp of Marcos, through lawyer Estelito Mendoza, earlier suggested that the petitioners instead file an election protest after the proclamation, since the Constitution states that the incoming president should formally take office by June 30.

RELATED: Marcos camp to petitioners: Questions on candidacy can be filed via election protest

The Supreme Court has not yet issued a TRO, but it asked Comelec, Congress and Marcos to comment on the petition, adding they have 15 days upon receipt of the notice to do so.