The Commission on Elections (Comelec) junked a request by anti-Marcos petitioners for the poll body to order the release of presidential bet Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s records with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
The petitioners made this request after a Quezon City court confirmed, upon their inquiry, that there was no record of Marcos’ compliance with a 1997 court verdict. The Court of Appeals, at that time, ordered Marcos to pay the BIR his unpaid income taxes with interest, on top of fines.
Marcos’ failure to file his income tax returns in the 1980s when he was vice governor and governor of Ilocos Norte is at the center of efforts to block his 2022 presidential bid.
In a December 13 ruling, the Comelec’s 2nd Division decided not to compel the BIR to release certified true copies of Marcos’ tax records, saying it would further delay the resolution of the case.
The same order ruled against the request by Marcos’ lawyer Estelito Mendoza, dated November 19, for face-to-face oral arguments, instead of a virtual hearing, over the petition to cancel the former senator’s certificate of candidacy (COC).
“Setting the case for clarificatory hearing and the addition of more evidence, including the subject of the subpoena prayed for by the petitioners, are no longer necessary in the resolution of the case,” the order read.
“Doing so would only result to unnecessary delay which is inconsistent with the summary nature of the case,” it added.
Why Marcos’ BIR tax records?
A quick timeline: the Quezon City Regional Trial Court convicted Marcos in 1995. The appellate court modified that decision in 1997, aquitting him of tax evasion, but retaining his guilty verdict for failure to file ITRs.
He was ordered two things: settle his deficiencies with BIR, and pay a fine for his non-filing of ITRs.
His 2022 vehicle Partido Federal ng Pilipinas had claimed Marcos paid the fines in 2001. As for the first order, his lawyer Mendoza said the ruling was unclear.
Former Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te, counsel of the petitioners, had said the QC court’s certification of no record of satisfactory compliance with the court’s judgment cements that Marcos “has been convicted and the sentence remains unserved.”
Te’s clients – Father Christian Buenafe of the Task Force Detainees and other civic leaders – filed their petition to cancel Marcos’ COC on November 2, arguing that Marcos committed material misrepresentation in his candidacy papers when he claimed he was eligible to run for office despite his 1997 tax conviction.
They insist such is a crime of moral turpitude, which carries a penalty of perpetual disqualification from public office under the Omnibus Election Code.
Both petitioners and the Marcos camp were given by the Comelec five days from receipt of the December 13 order to submit their memoranda, which are documents necessary for the case to be considered deemed for resolution.
If both parties received a copy of the order on December 13, the deadline for submission would be on December 20, as December 18 and 19 would fall on the weekend.
In total, there are seven unresolved petitions against Marcos’ Malacañang run.
The Marcos camp has described these efforts against him as mere propaganda orchestrated by his opponents. – Rappler.com