By John Victor D. Ordoñez
THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) will decide on the pending disqualification cases against the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos by April, a commissioner of the poll body said on Thursday.
“Since I did not participate in the discussion on these cases, I was told by the chairman before the end of April, a decision by the en banc will be forthcoming on the consolidated cases and motion for reconsiderations,” Commissioner George M. Garcia said in a press briefing streamed live on the Comelec Facebook Page.
“The earliest would be the second week of April, the latest will be the third week of April,” he said.
Mr. Garcia, an election law expert who handled high-profile cases prior to his recent Comelec appointment, earlier said that he will inhibit from cases involving former clients, which include presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr.
Comelec Chairman Saidamen B. Pangarungan, who was also recently appointed, has said that the commission will fast-track pending cases.
The election body has yet to decide on several cases seeking to bar Mr. Marcos from the elections scheduled on May 9.
The Comelec First Division dismissed three consolidated disqualification petitions against Mr. Marcos, ruling that his failure to file tax returns in the 1980s did not involve wicked, deviant behavior. The case is on appeal with the en banc.
The Second Division rejected a similar petition in January, citing that Mr. Marcos did not mislead the public when he said in his certificate of candidacy that he was eligible to run for president. The case is also on ap-peal with the en banc.
Decisions by the Comelec en banc could be elevated before the Supreme Court.
The Akbayan party-list group, among those that filed a disqualification petition, asked the Comelec en banc on Monday to fast-track its decision.
Mr. Garcia also said that the Comelec chairman has instructed the designated writer of the decision for the dispute case involving the ruling PDP-LABAN party to expedite the resolution.
Mr. Garcia is also inhibiting from the case as he previously lawyered for the party prior to the internal rift between two factions.
Comelec earlier allowed candidates from both factions to use the party name on the printed ballots pending a decision on the dispute.
The resolution is expected to be released before the end of March.
Meanwhile, the Comelec held a random ballot testing on Thursday at the National Printing Office, which was previously requested by election lawyer Romulo B. Macalintal. The proceeding was also streamed live on the Comelec Facebook Page.
Mr. Macalintal earlier asked Comelec to examine randomly selected ballots in the presence of representatives of political parties and candidates so they can test the security of the printing process.
Representatives from different political parties and citizens’ arms were allowed to examine the randomly selected ballots.
“I would like to thank the Comelec. I would like to thank the Comelec for being transparent with this process,” Mr. Macalintal said at the event.
About 87.2% or 58.8 million of the 67.4 million total ballots have been printed as of Thursday, Mr. Garcia said.
The first day of the campaign period for local positions — including House representatives, provincial governor, mayor, vice mayor, and councilors — starts Friday.
Last week, Comelec lifted the permit requirement to hold rallies and sorties for candidates and political parties as pandemic-related restrictions in most parts of the country have been eased.
Candidates earlier urged the election body to review what they deemed impractical campaign guidelines.
“We have been listening to requests to loosen restrictions, but in our loosening of restrictions, this doesn’t mean we can hold super-spreader events,” Mr. Garcia said in Filipino at the press briefing on Thursday.