Ateneo law expert and ex-DOJ chief says ‘no legal ground to cancel Bongbong’s CoC’

Ateneo law expert and ex-DOJ chief says ‘no legal ground to cancel Bongbong’s CoC’

Leading presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos

MANILA — Former Justice Secretary and Ateneo Law School professor Atty. Alberto Agra has argued that the petition filed to cancel the Certificate of Candidacy (COC) of presidential aspirant Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr. has no basis and is unlikely to move forward.

In an interview with DZRH, Agra said it was clearly stated in the Omnibus Election Code that Marcos was qualified and had no shortcomings in his CoC submission.

“Nakalagay dun sa Omnibus Election Code natin na kailangan hindi convicted. Ibang termino ang nakalagay sa batas. Ang nakalagay sa batas kailangan sentenced, may final judgement of imprisonment. Ang nangyari nung binasa ko ang kaso, wala si presidentiable BBM, hindi siya sentenced to imprisonment. Guilty siya to pay a fine,” Agra explained.

The lawyer clarified that he is not Marcos’ lawyer or supporter, but based on his analysis of the case, it appears that Marcos’ case is not tax evasion but simply failure to file his income tax return (ITR).

The law states that in order to cancel the CoC of any candidate, he or she must be found guilty and punished with more than 18 months imprisonment and be convicted of a crime involving ‘moral turpitude.’

“Moral turpitude, kung medyo halang ka, bastos, immoral, talagang gusto mong mandaya o manggulang. Ang tanong ngayong yun bang hindi pag-file ng income tax return yun ba ay crime involving moral terpitude? Syempre hindi,” Agra added.

Agra also pointed out that there is no final judgment in Marcos’ case because it has not yet reached the Supreme Court.

“Guilty siya (for failure to file ITR) pero multa lang, walang imprisonment,” Agra noted, explaining that this is far from the basis for disqualifying a candidate.

He further asserted that the Supreme Court has already made a decision that also clarified the issue.

“In the same case na ponente si Justice Antonio Carpio, sinabi ng Supreme Court na ang crime involving moral turpitude kung fraudulent filing of the tax return. Hindi moral turpitude kung non-filing of the income tax return. Magiging moral turpitude ang non-filing kung may halong fraud,” Agra said

In the case of Marcos: “Hindi siya moral turpitude kasi hindi naman napatunayan na may fraud,” he added.

Marcos’ camp had earlier said that the new petition filed against them was rubbish and only part of the opponent’s dirty or gutter politics. (ai/mtvn)

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