How Marcos DQ cases could block him from presidency despite election victory

Son of late dictator Bongbong Marcos Jr. have won the recent elections but his path to the presidency still faces legal hurdles. What would happen if his candidacy is declared void or he gets disqualified?

Bongbong Marcos Jr. is now the presumptive president of the Philippines yet his bid to assume the country’s top post remains unclear even after the election day.

Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of the late dictator, is carrying this burden despite his historic victory by a majority vote as the disqualification saga against him continues in the Supreme Court (SC).

A group of civic leaders, represented by former SC spokesperson Atty. Ted Te, filed on Monday, May 16 a petition for certiorari before the high court seeking to cancel Marcos Jr’s certificate of candidacy (COC) and stop his impending proclamation.

The main argument of the petitioners is that Marcos Jr. committed material misrepresentation when he declared in his COC that he is eligible to run for public office despite his 1997 conviction for his failure to file income tax returns (ITRs).

“A candidate’s putative election victory cannot subsequently cure his ineligibility. Elections are more than just a numbers game such that an election victory cannot bypass election eligibility requirements,” reads part of the petition.

The camp of Marcos Jr. reacted to the filing of the petition before the SC as his spokesperson Atty. Vic Rodriguez appealed to the petitioners to “learn to respect the will of the people.”

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has earlier affirmed the dismissal of the petition to cancel Marcos Jr’s COC. The poll body also junked four disqualification cases against the former senator, which are expected as well to be elevated to the high court.

Here are the three possible scenarios that may happen related to the pleas attempting to prevent another Marcos presidency.

1. Bongbong Marcos cleared to become the next president

Now that Marcos Jr. has won the elections, there is only one thing that he needs to accomplish to become the president: clear his path of legal obstacles by winning the petition and others that may soon be filed in the SC.

If the high court would vote in his favor to dismiss the petition to cancel his COC or to disqualify him, then he may succeed outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte.

Assuming that the SC would take years to resolve the cases, Marcos Jr. may also serve his six-year term while the petitions remain pending until they would have to be dismissed for being moot.

2. Leni Robredo proclaimed as president if Marcos’ COC is canceled

However, if the SC would grant the petition to cancel Marcos Jr’s COC, his presidential run would effectively be deemed void ab initio or from the beginning.

In simpler terms, Marcos Jr. would be treated as if he was never part of the presidential race since the hypothetical decision would have invalidated his candidacy.

In this particular case, votes cast for Marcos Jr. would be considered stray. According to the Omnibus Election Code, the second placer or the candidate with the highest number of votes next to the one whose COC is canceled would be proclaimed as the winner.

Outgoing Vice President Leni Robredo, the archrival of Marcos Jr., is shown to receive the second highest number of votes based on the Comelec’s partial and unofficial count.

Robredo would be proclaimed as president in the event that the SC grants the petition and the COC of Marcos Jr. is canceled.

3. Sara Duterte succeed Bongbong Marcos if he gets disqualified

Meanwhile, petitions for Marcos Jr’s disqualification may also reach the Supreme Court.

Unlike the petition to cancel COC, one of the grounds of a petition for disqualification is when a candidate committed a crime involving moral turpitude.

In the petitions already junked by the Comelec en banc, petitioners have argued that Marcos Jr’s conviction for his failure to file ITRs constitute a crime involving moral turpitude.

If the petition to cancel Marcos Jr’s COC would fail but petitions to disqualify him would succeed, the law of succession would be applied according to election lawyers and existing jurisprudence.

Hypothetically, a disqualified Marcos Jr. would be forced to surrender the presidency to the Vice President, who happens to be his running mate, Sara Duterte.

Thumbnail photo made via Canva

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