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When asked why presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was not able to attend the hearing through video conference on disqualification cases in the Commission on Election (COMELEC) on Friday (January 7), his legal counsel replied that they were afraid of him “spreading the virus.”
Needless to say, COVID-19 is not transmissible through video conference.
A frustrated Commissioner Rowena Guanzon questioned Marcos Jr.'s absence, which caused a delay in the start of the hearing for the latter’s failure to present a medical certificate.
“Why don't you ask your client to go on Zoom? Even if he is in isolation, he can have a laptop or his phone,” she said.
After the medical certificate was presented nearing the end of the session, Guanzon asked Hanna Barcena, Marcos Jr.’s counsel, “He cannot appear on video even if he doesn’t speak just so his presence can be noted?”
To which she responded, “Yes, Your Honor, because we are afraid that he might cause the spread of the virus.”
Just a few hours after his 10 AM medical consultation, Marcos Jr. gave a live radio interview via Zoom at 4:45 PM on January 6.
After this development, the COMELEC commissioner is now asking why the Marcos counsel failed to submit the medical certificate dated January 6.
So why didnt his lead lawyer submit a medical certificate dated Jan 6 if this is true ? I will order the doctor and Atty Rodriguez to show cause or require his physician to have his medical certificate notarized.@jabjimenez @COMELEC @cnnphilippines @gmanews @InquirerMobile https://t.co/gkPR4HuNVk
— Rowena Guanzon (@rowena_guanzon) January 9, 2022
Gabriela Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas twitted Marcos Jr. after the exchange between COMELEC and the Marcos counsel.
"Tax evader na, Zoom evader pa. Pano makakahawa ang COVID-19 sa Zoom? Zoomicron yan? (Not only is he a tax evader, but he's also a Zoom evader too. How will COVID-19 spread in Zoom? What is this, the Zoomicron variant?)” she said.
Marcos Jr.’s legal counsel managed to represent him despite his absence. He has supposedly apologized to COMELEC for his absence through a political officer. It is yet to be made clear, however, if such an apology has indeed made its way to the commissioner.
Guanzon announced on Twitter that COMELEC will raffle the Marcos disqualification cases on Monday.
(Updates on the fifth and sixth paragraphs with more details and a statement from Commissioner Guanzon.)
Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.
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