The petitions against former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. continue to pile up, with party-list group Akbayan and other civic leaders as the latest to formally urge the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to disqualify him from the 2022 presidential race due to his tax conviction in the 1990s.
In their disqualification petition submitted to the Comelec on Thursday, December 2, the petitioners argued that the ousted dictator’s son should be barred from seeking the country’s top post as provided by the National Internal Revenue Code of 1977.
Presidential Decree No. 1994, s. 1985 – which is an amendment to that code – included a penalty of “[dismissal] from public service and [perpetual disqualification] from holding any public office” if a Filipino citizen fails to file his income tax return (ITR).
Because Marcos’ 1995 tax conviction included his failure to file his ITR for 1985 before the April 1986 deadline, the petitioners asserted that Marcos violated the amendment of that code, which took effect in 1986.
“Thus, from 01 January 1986 to at least 16 April 1986, the Respondent was committing the crimes of failure to file his income tax returns despite the effectivity of P.D. No. 1994, s. 1985,” the petition read.
The petitioners noted that Marcos’ 1995 tax conviction for failing to file his ITRs in the early 1980s was made final and executory by the Supreme Court in 2001.
“As such, his final conviction necessarily carried with it the penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding any public office, voting, and participating in any election,” the petition read.
The civic leaders, like in earlier petitions filed with the poll body, also argued that when Marcos failed to file his ITRs, he committed crimes of moral turpitude – a ground for disqualification under the Omnibus Election Code.
“When the Respondent decided to evade his duty of filing his income tax returns for the years 1982 to 1985, he was robbing the government of the opportunity to ascertain the correct income taxes due from him,” the petitioners said.
“Worse, the Respondent refused to file his ITRs while sitting as a public officer, no less than the governor of Ilocos Norte. His continued refusal was a betrayal of the very government that he swore to serve,” they added.
The petitioners also said that Marcos should not be allowed to run for public office because of a prison sentence that was part of the 1995 conviction against him.
Anyone who received a penalty of imprisonment of more than 18 months is perpetually disqualified from office, according to the election code.
While the Court of Appeals in 1997 sustained Marcos’ guilt for failure to file his ITRs, it did not impose the prison term slapped by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court. For the petitioners, this was “patently a mistake.”
“Without any reason to modify the decision of the QC RTC with respect to Criminal Case No. Q-91-24391, the Court of Appeals should not have excluded the penalty of imprisonment in its reiteration of the sentence against the Respondent,” the petition read.
Named as petitioners in the case, aside from Akbayan, were former Commission on Human Rights chief Etta Rosales, Claimants 1081 member Doris Nuval, Sentro deputy general Joanna Coronacion, Akbayan Youth national chairperson RJ Naguit, and Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific executive director Jo Enrica Rosales.
Akbayan leaders held a demonstration outside the Comelec office in Intramuros, Manila, ahead of the filing of the disqualification petition on Thursday.
There are five other petitions filed with the Comelec that seek to block Marcos’ 2022 presidential bid. Three of them are petitions to cancel his certificate of candidacy, one is a petition to declare him a nuisance candidate, and one is a disqualification petition.
The Marcos camp on Thursday dismissed the latest disqualification effort against their presidential aspirant.
“[Lahat] nang ito ay bahagi ng patuloy na pang-aapi kay Marcos ng iisang grupo ng mga taong likas na negatibo ang pananaw sa buhay, puno ng poot ang puso at ayaw na umusad ang bansa tungo sa magandang bukas,” said Marcos spokesperson Vic Rodriguez.
(All of this is part of the continued bullying of Marcos by a group of people with negative viewpoints in life and hatred in their hearts – people who do not want the country to move forward.)
The Comelec has not ruled out the possibility of resolving cases against Marcos before the end of 2021. – Rappler.com