MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) has halted the implementation of an Election Commission (Comelec) resolution declaring animal welfare advocate Norman Cordero Marquez a “harmful candidate.”

Marquez, a real estate broker and co-founder and sole trustee of Baguio Animal Welfare, intends to run for senator in the May election.

In a resolution made public on Wednesday, the High Court ordered the polling body to comment on Marquez’s motion within a non-extendable period of 10 days from receiving the notice.

The restraining order was issued “upon the written recommendation of the responsible member” (the judge to whom the petition was awarded in the raffle).

This is not Marquez’s first attempt for a Senate seat as he also filed his Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for the position of Senator during the May 2019 polls. He was declared an unwelcome candidate by Comelec during this election.

Revoking Marquez’s COC in 2019, Comelec found that he was “virtually unknown to the whole country except perhaps in the locality where he resides” and that “although a real estate broker, he, in the absence of clear proof of its financial capacity, will not be able to sustain the financial rigors of a national campaign.

But Marquez told the polling body he shouldn’t have overlooked “the potential of a largely untapped sector of animal lovers, breeders and trainers, and local and foreign benefactors and donors. who are willing and able to (sic) subsidize the expenses of a social media-enhanced national campaign.

In a September 3, 2019 ruling, the SC through Associate Judge Francis H. Jardeleza (now retired) granted Marquez’s motion to declare that Comelec grossly abused its discretion when it declared Marquez a troublesome candidate for being “virtually unknown” and for failing to prove his financial capacity to launch a national campaign.

“There is a serious abuse of power: (1) when an act is committed contrary to the Constitution, the law or case law; or (2) when performed in a fanciful, capricious, or capricious manner through malice, ill will, or personal bias. Both elements appear to be present in this case,” the High Court said at the time.

While the SC acknowledged Comelec’s objective of weeding out candidates who have not demonstrated a bona fide intention to stand for election, it also stated that “any measure aimed at achieving the said objective should not, however, not be arbitrary and oppressive and must not contravene the Republican System ordained in our Constitution.

“Unfortunately Comelec’s preferred standard falls short of what is constitutionally permissible,” the High Court said in its 2019 decision.

Although the SC overturned Comelec’s decision on Marquez’s 2019 senatorial candidacy, he was unable to obtain a restraining order, so his name was removed from the ballot and he was excluded from the ballots of May 2019.

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