Activists ask top court to void Marcos’s presidential win

Loud and clear: A nun among the protesters rallying against Marcos and Duterte in Pasay, Philippines. — AP

Human rights activists have asked the Philippine Supreme Court to block Congress from proclaiming Ferdinand Marcos Jr as the next president, alleging that he lied when he said he had not been convicted of any crime.

The Commission on Election twice dismissed their petition and six other similar complaints to cancel Marcos’s candidacy papers ahead of the May 9 vote.

The petitioners elevated the case to the highest court on Monday, saying Marcos was convicted in 1995 of tax evasion with a jail term, which should have permanently barred him from seeking public office.

A 1997 Court of Appeals ruling upheld Marcos’s conviction for failing to file income tax returns from 1982 to 1985 and ordered him to settle his unpaid taxes and fines, but did not mention any imprisonment.

Most of the petitioners are leaders of groups representing survivors of martial law in the 1970s under his father Ferdinand Marcos.

They want the court to temporarily block the Senate and the House of Representatives from undertaking an official canvassing of votes starting next week that would eventually proclaim Marcos as the winner.

“Our petition notes that a candidate’s imminent victory cannot cure his ineligibility,” said Fides Lim, spokesperson of one of the human rights groups.

“If the Supreme Court were to allow such a brazen lie to trump the rule of law, all substantive eligibility requirements in all future elections can be circumvented by ineligible candidates who happen to secure a victory.”

Marcos had more than 31 million votes in an unofficial count in what’s projected to be one of the strongest mandates for a Philippine president in decades.

Sara Duterte, his vice-presidential running mate and daughter of the outgoing populist president, appears to have also won with a large margin.

His electoral triumph is a striking reversal of the “People Power” revolt in 1986 that forced his father out of office following years of human rights violations and plunder that Marcos has never acknowledged.

Unofficial counts also show that allies of Marcos and Duterte are set to capture most of the 300 seats in the House of Representatives and half of the 24-seat Senate that was up for election, and likely the chambers’ top leaderships. — AP

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