EXPLAINER: Instead of Bongbong, Leni or Sara may become the next PH president if…

By Archie Villaflores 


A petition to cancel Bongbong Marcos Jr's COC reaches the Supreme Court. What happens next?


A group of civic leaders, represented by former SC spokesperson Atty. Ted Te, files before the high court a petition seeking to cancel the certificate of candidacy or COC of now presumptive-president Bongbong Marcos Jr. 

The petitioners are also asking the high court to stop the Congress (the Senate and the House of Representatives) from canvassing votes for Marcos Jr. and from proclaiming him as president.

This case stems from Marcos Jr's conviction for his failure to file income tax returns. Petitioners argue Marcos Jr. committed material misrepresentation — the sole ground of a petition to cancel COC — when he said in his COC he had not been meted penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding public office. 

Although not explicitly stated in the 1997 decision of the Court of Appeals, petitioners argue that perpetual disqualification from holding public office is an accessory penalty of non-filing of income tax returns. 

The petition was dismissed by the Commision on Elections (Comelec) 2nd Division — a decision later on affirmed by the poll body's En Banc. 


1ST SCENARIO: BONGBONG WILL BE THE PRESIDENT

If the Supreme Court junks the Ted Te group petition, the petitioners can file a motion for reconsideration. 

If the SC decides with finality to dismiss the same petition and all disqualification cases that may soon be filed against Marcos Jr., he will be cleared of legal impediment to become the country's president, succeeding strongman Rodrigo Duterte. 

Marcos Jr. may also successfully serve his six-year term if the SC would not resolve the pending cases during his presidency or before the next national elections, making the petitions already moot. 

If any of these would be the case, Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of the late dictator, may return to Malacañang and rule the country that once ousted their family from power in a popular uprising. 


2ND SCENARIO: LENI ROBREDO WILL BE THE PRESIDENT

If the Ted Te group petition is granted with final judgment effectively cancelling Marcos Jr's COC, his presidential bid would be invalidated and votes cast for him would be considered stray. Marcos Jr. would be deemed as if he was not a candidate ab initio or from the beginning. 

Second-placer Leni Robredo, having garnered the highest number of votes excluding that of the stray votes, would be proclaimed as president regardless whether Marcos Jr. has already been proclaimed as such or not. 

Robredo, the incumbent vice president, is the true opposition leader that led a never-before-seen 'pink' movement anchored on volunteerism which helped her campaign to prosper despite massive disinformation against her. 


3RD SCENARIO: SARA DUTERTE WILL BE THE PRESIDENT 

Aside from petitions seeking to cancel Marcos Jr's COC, the Comelec en banc has also handled petitions seeking to disqualify him.

While the only ground for cancellation of COC is material misrepresentation, one of the grounds for disqualification is committing a crime of moral turpitude. One of the main arguments of the petitioners is that Marcos Jr's conviction due to his failure to file income returns is a crime involving moral turpitude. 

Now, if the Ted Te group petition is dismissed but disqualification cases are elevated to and granted by the SC, election lawyers and existing jurisprudence said the law of succession would be followed. 

If Marcos Jr. ended up being disqualified by the SC despite winning the elections with a historic majority vote, Sara Duterte would succeed him. 

Sara is the presumptive VP, Bongbong's running mate, and the daughter of the incumbent president. 

The election is over but there is still uncertainty on who will sit at the country's top position. Who among Bongbong, Leni, and Sara will be the next president of the Philippines? The electorate has spoken but the answer remains to be seen.

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