December 6, 2022

The Commission on Elections First Division will issue a ruling on the disqualification case against former senator Bongbong Marcos Jr., tomorrow, Jan. 17.
Everyone is anticipating the historic decision which could dictate the destiny of this nation.
Meantime in a press release, Tangere Survey showed that Marcos Jr. broke the 60 percent barrier from 56 percent to 59.7 percent to an all-time high of 63 percent.
This means that if the elections were held today, six out of 10 Filipinos will vote for him. Surprisingly, Isko Moreno came as second choice. Simply put, it means that if the SC disqualifies Marcos, three of every five of Marcos’ supposed votes would go for Isko.
Vice President Leni Robredo has slid to a far third and the rest of are goners.
Pupulutin na lang sa kankungan!
So, what gives with the disqualification case?
In G.R. l-36142 (Josue Javellana et al vs. Executive Secretary et al) dated March 31, 1973, the SC enunciated the “doctrine of political question.” It held that some legal questions brought before our courts are fundamentally political and not legal. If a question is fundamentally political, then the court will refuse to hear or decide that case and say it does not have jurisdiction over the matter.
Ateneo School of Government Dean Tony La Viña has this to say: “One of the possible scenarios in the disqualification case is a ruling that he should not be disqualified because of the political question doctrine – that this is an issue for the people, in its sovereign capacity to decide, not for the Comelec or the judiciary.”
In my Nov. 7, 2021 column “Moral turpitude – Matagal nang tapos,” I discussed why Marcos Jr. cannot be disqualified based on his issues with the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
In August 2009, the SC, in People vs. Marcos said that “More importantly, even assuming for the sake of argument that his conviction is later on affirmed, the same is still insufficient to disqualify him as the failure to file an income tax return is not a crime involving moral turpitude.
The SC also clarified in Dela Torre vs. Commission on Elections that not every criminal act involves moral turpitude.
Again, there is no such crime as moral turpitude in our penal laws or a statutory definition under any criminal law. Nullum crimen noe poena sine lege – no crime if there is no law punishing it.
Former solicitor general Estelito Mendoza whom I worked with in the plunder case against another Bong submitted a seven-page answer to the voluminous petitions saying that the conviction in the tax case is not a crime involving moral turpitude, for which one might be disqualified. The Court of Appeals decision does not, and no inference can be made from its decision that Marcos in this case, has been found of committing a crime involving moral turpitude.
The fate of Marcos Jr. will be known tomorrow.
Tony talks of a possible scenario where the Comelec will decline to decide and just allow the people to make the decision through the ballots. What is fatal to this nation is a decision after the 2022 elections, with Marcos winning. This will nullify the will of the people which goes against the essence of democracy.
For us legal eagles watching from the sidelines, all we can mutter is Salus populi suprema lex – The welfare of the people is the supreme law” and “Vox populi, vox Dei – The voice of the people is the voice of God.
Sigh.