2022 Philippine Elections

[OPINION] Why Marcos Jr. is morally unfit to run this country

Melba Padilla Maggay

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[OPINION] Why Marcos Jr. is morally unfit to run this country
'He would rather be safe, displaying instead his cooking, in an environment where inconvenient truths are held at bay...'

Contrary to the decision penned by Comelec Commissioner Aimee Ferolino, Ferdinand Marcos junior is guilty of “moral turpitude.”

Citizens with a minimum moral sense, whose conscience has yet to be seared by legal technicalities, have always known what retired Commissioner Rowena Ganzon has forthrightly said: Marcos Jr. is morally unfit to lead this country.    

Commissioners Ferolino and Marlon Casquejo in their legal argument made a tortuous distinction between an inherently evil crime: “mala in se,” and a merely legal trespass: “mala prohibita.

This distinction assumes that what the law decrees as “wrong” is merely a matter of convention. It makes a false dichotomy between what is “moral” and what is merely “legal.”

It needs to be understood that a society’s laws evolve and issue out of a people’s moral sense, their historically constituted idea of what is right and wrong in regulating their common life. Laws embody a people’s moral consensus, the code by which the social order is to be preserved. In a democratic society, citizens are bound to the social contract that everyone contributes to the common welfare by paying taxes. 

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Commissioners Ferolino and Casquejo should imagine what it will be like if all our people would simply treat non-payment of taxes as a minor “sin of omission” that does not amount to “moral turpitude” because it lacks the necessary “quantum of vileness.” 

In the first place, a “sin of omission” is just as bad as a “sin of commission.” In Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, the sanctimonious priest and Levite looked the other way and passed by on the other side when they saw a beaten-up man lying half dead on the road. It took a Samaritan, a race despised by the Jews, to bind up the man’s wounds and bring him to an inn to be cared for. 

Societies like ours deteriorate to the degraded condition it is now precisely because we merely stand by when the few who are powerful peremptorily ignore the law. We wait until the abuses of the powerful approach the proportions of what Casquejo calls a “quantum of vileness” before we register a whimper of protest.

It should be noted that the nonpayment of taxes was an offense done repeatedly. It happened four times, from 1982 to 1985, a period when Marcos junior was governor of Ilocos Norte and his father was at the height of his grip on power. Then as now, the non-payment of taxes was treated in the same cavalier way that the Marcoses treat the law, – minor inconveniences that can be ignored. 

The thinly-veiled bias behind the Comelec commissioners’ ruling shows in the way it echoed a similar line of reasoning by Marcos lawyer George Briones. He was quoted beforehand as dismissive, saying the case is merely a trivial offense on the same level as jaywalking.   

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Guanzon has earlier based her verdict of “moral turpitude” on what this case reveals about Marcos Jr.’s character and that of his legal lackeys. 

“Even an ordinary Filipino knows that when you don’t pay your tax, that is bad,” said Guanzon. “He did not pay his taxes four times. And when he was convicted, he did not even pay the fine….” 

Normally, a miscreant pays his penalties to the branch of the Regional Trial Court where he got convicted. RTC 105 has no record of such payment. Marcos’ lawyers claim that he paid his taxes through the Land Bank. But the documents they submitted were patently false.

“They had no certified copy of their allegation that they paid the deficiency taxes with the Land Bank. So sinuri po ng mga abogado ko at ako mismo tumingin dun sa xerox copy ng resibo umano ng Land Bank, nakalagay dun ‘payment of lease rentals.’  Ano ba yan, pinapalusutan niyo pa kami? Ano naman tingin niyo sa ‘min, mga lampang abogado? Sa tagal ko na sa practice, sa husgado, siyempre susuriin namin ‘yang mga ebidensya niya. Bakit nyo fine-fake?…. Parang sa kanila, akala nila anu-ano lang ito, laro lang ba ito? Hindi.”

That a senior member of the Comelec had been forced to breach usual court protocols to reveal a clear case of dishonesty and trickery, on top of a delay that she suspected to be “malicious,” is only one instance of the way power and money are being deployed to cover up the moral unfitness of Marcos Jr.

Of course, this is not the first time that Marcos and his minions had been caught blatantly lying. Bare-faced, he had bandied about that he has a diploma from Oxford University. The university has officially disavowed, however, that he is in their roll of graduates. Those familiar with the British system will tell you that what it amounts to is the equivalent of a certificate of attendance for those who fail to measure up to the stringent requirements of the university. 

The lack of a degree does not necessarily bar anyone from seeking a high office. But lying about it is a dangerous sign, a sure indication that he will also lie in more serious matters of state. 

Marcos Sr., in his diaries, once characterized him as “too carefree and lazy.” Even now, he could not apply himself to confronting headlong questions and issues that may be flung at him in media interviews uncontrolled by his army of apologists. He has neither the courage nor the transparent candor to go public without being propped up by his spin masters. He would rather be safe, displaying instead his cooking, in an environment where inconvenient truths are held at bay by showcasing the charming privileges of being part of a political elite that can always flout the law. 

Pity the likes of Mang Narding who gets jailed for stealing a few kilos of mangoes, while the Marcoses go scot-free, whether convicted of evading taxes or stealing billions. – Rappler.com

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