Possible scenarios on Marcos' DQ cases amid Comelec reshuffle

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 2) — With three commissioners of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) stepping down from their posts, it is still uncertain when a decision on presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos' disqualification case will be handed down.

Comelec chairman Sheriff Abas, and Commissioners Antonio Kho Jr. and Rowena Guanzon are retiring on midnight of Wednesday, Feb. 2, leaving the fate of the election cases to the remaining members of the en banc.

Prior to her retirement, Guanzon disclosed that she voted in favor of the petitioners seeking to disqualify Marcos due to his tax conviction. But without an official ruling by the First Division from ponente Aimee Ferolino, Guanzon's vote will not be counted.

What will happen next?

Comelec's next move

The poll body will now be left with Commissioners Marlon Casquejo, Aimee Ferolino, Rey Bulay, and Socorro Inting, possibly sitting as interim chairperson, according to Guanzon.

The initial members of the First Division handling the disqualification case are Guanzon, the presiding commissioner; along with Ferolino and Casquejo.

Kho, Inting, and Bulay are from the Second Division, which earlier ruled to junk a separate petition to cancel Marcos' bid.

Since Casquejo will be transferred to the Second Division as its presiding commissioner effective Feb. 3, he will now be unable to vote on the DQ cases. At least two votes to disqualify Marcos are needed to formalize the First Division's decision.

Inting will be replacing Guanzon as presiding commissioner of the First Division, but she has the option to either let Ferolino handle the case and set a deadline for a ruling, or simply re-raffle the case and let another commissioner pen the decision.

Scenario 1: DQ case stays under Ferolino

Ferolino and Inting are now left to solve the consolidated disqualification cases. The latter may assign a third member to the First Division to break a potential tie.

"They (the divisions) have two commissioners each, so they can resolve the cases," Guanzon told CNN Philippines' The Source on Wednesday. "In case there’s a tie, the acting chair, who will probably be Commissioner Inting, on Feb 3 will assign a third member to the division."

"In case let's say Commissioner Inting and Ferolino have a tie, then the acting chair can assign a third member — probably Commissioner Bulay or Commissioner Casquejo," she added.

Scenario 2: DQ case will be re-raffled

Guanzon earlier stressed that it would be much better to re-raffle the case because Ferolino already "lost the privilege" of drafting the resolution while she and Casquejo were still under the division.

However, the decision of the raffle will still up be up to the discretion of Inting, she also said.

What's in it for Marcos?

Marcos is currently leading in the pollster surveys of preferred candidates. So far, he can still participate in the campaign period pending the decision but there is still a possibility of him getting disqualified before or after elections.

Even after Comelec's two divisions issue resolutions on his cases, they are still appealable before the en banc and even the Supreme Court.

Scenario 1: Marcos gets disqualified anytime during campaign period until noon of May 9

Under Comelec Resolution 1017, "the substitute for an aspirant/candidate who died or was disqualified by final judgment may file a COC up to mid-day of election day; provided that, the substitute and the substituted aspirant/candidate have the same surnames.”

This means Marcos' wife, Liza Araneta-Marcos, or his sister, former Sen. Imee Marcos, can replace his bid, regardless of their chosen political party.

Guanzon told CNN Philippines it would be much better for Marcos to be disqualified prior to the polls and have someone take his place, so that his supporters "will not be confused and frustrated" after entrusting their vote to their chosen bet.

Scenario 2: Marcos refuses substitution, gets stray votes

If Marcos refuses to invoke his right of substitution, votes to his name will be considered stray votes and will not reflect in the canvassing tally, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez earlier said.

Commissioner Kho also previously noted: "We will release the necessary order telling our election officers....na dapat if there were votes received by a particular candidate, that will be considered stray, will not be considered in the counting."

Scenario 3: Marcos is disqualified after proclamation, replaced by VP

Jimenez said that if Marcos gets the highest number of votes on May 9, his victory may still be invalidated even after his proclamation.

"There will be (election) lawyers who will tell what the actions will be, but in effect, that will invalidate his win," Jimenez said. "Sisipa rin diyan ang rules of succession (The rules of succession will also come in), from president to vice president."

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

Key aspirants that will fight head-to-head in the upcoming elections are the tandems of Bongbong Marcos-Sara Duterte, Leni Robredo-Kiko Pangilinan, Ping Lacson-Tito Sotto, Manny Pacquiao-Lito Atienza, Isko Moreno-Willie Ong, and Leody de Guzman-Walden Bello.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Mel Lopez contributed to this report.