Comelec spokesperson refutes Marcos’ release: No comment was issued on petition to cancel COC

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Philstar.com

November 3, 2021 | 3:07pm

MANILA, Philippines — Commission on Elections spokesperson James Jimenez clarified a statement from the camp of presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. that he has not made a comment on the petition seeking the cancellation of the latter’s certificate of candidacy.

Jimenez explained on Wednesday that his statement included in a press release from the Marcos’ camp was given before any petition seeking disqualification was filed.

In a message to reporters, the Comelec spokesperson explained that the release from the Marcos camp is misleading. “That quote was not intended in any way as a comment on the current petition recently filed,” he said.

The Marcos camp issued a press release on Wednesday morning referring to a statement by Jimenez where he supposedly said there is no clear basis for the disqualification case filed “yesterday.”

Part of the release read:

Jimenez noted that in order to be disqualified, a candidate must have been convicted of a crime constituting ‘moral turpitude,’ or an offense with at least 18-month jail term…

‘He doesn’t meet these criteria. Right now there is no clear case for disqualification,’ Jimenez said in an interview with the media.

But the Comelec spokesperson said he was merely explaining “why Senator Marcos hadn’t yet been disqualified despite the fact of his conviction. The original quote should have been taken in the context of the fact that the Senator ran for [vice president] in 2016.”

“[At] the time of our interview, there was no filing against the Senator, and therefore what I said could not possible be construed or framed as referring to that subsequent event,” Jimenez also said.

A reporter from News5 said she interviewed Jimenez on Tuesday morning, when the petition filed by the civic leaders was not yet filed.

In the said interview, a transcript of which was shared to reporters, Jimenez was asked partly in Filipino: “About [Marcos] sir, can he be disqualified because of a conviction before on a tax case?”

Jimenez replied: “Under the law, a conviction has to be for a crime committed under moral turpitude or for an offense and a sentence is a penalty of at least 18 months, it doesn’t meet these criteria so right now in order for him to be disqualified.”

The first page of the petition filed showed a receiving stamp at 4:40 p.m. of November 2. News about the filing broke hours later.

Civic leaders’ petition

Six leaders from groups of political detainees, human rights and medical organizations accused Marcos of filing a COC that “contains multiple false material representations” before the Commission on Elections.

They cited a Quezon City decision in 1995 that convicted Marcos for four counts of violation of the National Internal Revenue Code for failure to file income tax returns from 1982 to 1985. Marcos appealed the case to the Court of Appeals that upheld the lower court’s conviction but deleted the penalty of imprisonment.

Lawyer Vic Rodriguez, the spokesperson of Marcos, confirmed that the said case already finished litigation.

But the petitioners asserted that the conviction “for violations of the provisions of the NIRC perpetually disqualifies respondent Marcos Jr. from participating in any election, more so to run for any public office.”

Rodriguez meanwhile held off commenting on the petition saying they are still waiting for the official copy of the petition.

He said: “Until then, we will refrain from commenting on their propaganda. Our camp does NOT engage in gutter politics. Our campaign is about nation-building.” — Kristine Joy Patag