Leading presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos
The petition to disqualify presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., running for the country’s highest political post in the May 2022 elections – and leading in surveys to date – signed by six signatories is now with the Second Division of the Commission on Elections.
The foul language-filled 57-page petition, filed by petitioners Fr. Christian Buenafe, Fides Lim, Ma. Edeliza Hernandez, Celia Lagman Sevilla, Roland Vibal, and Josephine Lascano, claimed that Marcos’ CoC contained multiple false material representations.
“Specifically, Marcos falsified his Certificate of Candidacy when he claimed that he was eligible to be a candidate for President of the Philippines in the 2022 national elections when in fact he is disqualified from doing so,” petitioners said in a statement.
The Petition to Cancel or Deny Due Course was filed under Section 78 in relation to Section 74, Article IX of the Omnibus Election Code, and petitioners noted that Marcos is not eligible to run for any public office because he was convicted.
“Marcos was convicted by the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City in a July 27, 1995 Decision for his multiple failures to file income tax returns,” the petitioners said.
“This conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeals and no longer appealed to the Supreme Court, thereby becoming a final and unappealable conviction. Having been convicted by final judgment of a violation of the National Internal Revenue Code, Marcos is perpetually disqualified from holding any public office, to vote, and to participate in any election as mandated under the NIRC,” they added, referring to the National Internal Revenue Code.
Petitioners have alleged that Marcos was convicted of tax evasion, and crafted their petition thusly, and we quote the language they used: “Bongbong Marcos, ang kapal ng mukha mo naman. Bago ka mag-ambisyon na maging pangulo ng kinawawa ninyong ating bayan, isauli mo muna ang ninakaw na bilyon-bilyong dolyares ng inyong mga kawatang magulang mula sa ating bayan.”
Certainly, this is an ad hominem argument where petitioners appeal to feelings and prejudices rather than to the intellect — yet another face of black propaganda which is often raised during elections, such use being outdated.
In the language of lawyers who stick to the truth, the ad hominem argument is blatantly impertinent, irrelevant, and immaterial.
It seems the petitioners if we heard retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio properly that petitioners had previously sought out his thoughts, were emboldened by the supposedly neutral learned man of the law and not politician, convenor of 1Sambayan, the alliance of opposition parties and people including presidential aspirant Leni Robredo.
In Carpio’s column in a major broadsheet titled “Crosscurrents,” he said, “…the disqualification provision in Section 12 of the OEC and the disqualification provision in Section 253 (c) of the Tax Code were already in our statute books, and thus applied to Marcos Jr., when he failed to file his income tax return, and pay the tax thereon, on April 15, 1986, for the taxable year 1985.”
In his last paragraph Carpio said: “As a former chief presidential legal counsel, I have always argued that the president must, above all else, have a good moral character. History has shown that our presidents who lied, stole, or killed – those afflicted with moral turpitude – have inflicted irreparable damage on the nation.”
We pray to the God of San Antonio and Santa Eleanora that Carpio may be sought out again by the petitioners to argue for them when their petition would be heard by Commissioner Socorro Inting, a retired Court of Appeals justice, and Commissioner Antonio Kho Jr., a former Justice undersecretary.
Given Carpio’s political persuasions and stripes, he will not be appearing as an amicus curiae or friend of the court who, after being permitted by the court, assists the court by furnishing information or advice regarding questions of law or fact with the intent of influencing the court’s decision.
Let’s go back briefly to April 1986, when Marcos Jr. should have filed his ITR for the preceding taxable year. He was not in the country then. He is alleged to have evaded paying taxes when he was vice governor and governor of Ilocos Norte.
Is it not a fact that all employees, in public or in private, automatically have their income taxes withheld every month they get their payslips?
But the petitioners stop short of mentioning that.
Despite Carpio’s being a former presidential legal counsel and a senior associate justice in the highest court of the land, he has lost his sense of objectivity and neutrality and appears to be a diehard anti-Marcos.
Careful scanning of the petition suggests no case for tax evasion and just a failure to file his ITR.
Under Philippine jurisprudence, to give due course and cancel the Certificate of Candidacy of any candidate, he or she must be found guilty and punished with more than 18 months of imprisonment or be convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.
The question arises: Does the failure to file income tax return involve moral turpitude?
The petitioners said the crimes for which Marcos was convicted by final judgment are also crimes involving moral turpitude that disqualifies him from being a candidate for any office under Section 12 of the OEC.
But a 2009 Supreme Court decision said “even assuming arguendo that his conviction is later on affirmed, the same is still insufficient to disqualify him as the ‘failure to file an income tax return’ is not a crime involving moral turpitude.”
Petitioners and their fellow black propagandists would certainly say such failure involved moral turpitude.
We take the opposite view.