Crestfallen candidates

Crestfallen candidates

Leading presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos is flanked by AnaKalusugan Party-list and Quezon Cty mayoral wannabe Rep. Mike Defensor (left) and his running mate Winnie Castelo (right)

Exactly 31 more nights – and then more than 60 million qualified and registered voters who have not availed themselves of early voting as permitted by the Commission on Elections will cast their votes on who candidates they would like to lead them during the next three to six years.

The general election is for executive and legislative branches of the government – national, provincial, and local, except for barangay officials – all for the next three years.

At the top of the ballot will be the election for successors to President Rodrigo Duterte, who swept to national prominence in the 2016 elections from his seat as Mayor of his hometown Davao City, and Vice President Leni Robredo, who this year is running for president as an independent candidate and not under the Liberal Party which endorsed her in 2016 – all for six years.

There will also be elections for: 12 seats to the Senate; all 316 seats to the House of Representatives; all 81 governors and vice governors, and 782 seats to provincial boards in all provinces; all 146 city mayors and vice mayors; and 1,650 seats to city councils in all cities; all 1,488 town mayors and vice mayors, and 11,908 seats to town councils in all municipalities.

The first election to the Bangsamoro Parliament was scheduled to be held on the same date but was rescheduled to 2025.

This will also be the first election in Davao de Oro under that name, as it was renamed “Compostela Valley” in December 2019 after a successful plebiscite.

But as the months had become weeks and the weeks days – and before long hours – to May 9, surveys on voter preference for presidential and vice-presidential posts are pointing to former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and his running mate under the UniTeam Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio as leading the pack of candidates by proscriptive miles.

Perceived objective political analysts suggest that, given the short period to Election Day, it is near impossible for the second placers – independent Leni Robredo and teammate Liberal Party stalwart Francisco Pangilinan – to overhaul the sky-high lead of the Marcos-Duterte tandem.

But those on the chase have switched their respective game plans in the few weeks to May 9, obviously believing that their latest stone against the surveys front runner Marcos would be able to condition the persuasions of the electorate.

One said this kind of strategy worked against then front runner Vice President Jejomar Binay, accused of corruption from two years before the presidential run in 2016, which was won by Duterte.

Not in Marcos case. Initially, they threw almost everything available: son of a dictator; thief; cheat; liar; absentee governor (of Ilocos Norte); among others. But he was loved all the more by his supporters – in fact, he earned more from other camps – because he ignored these political daggers while he continued to espouse unity for the Filipino people.

When he did not appear in some presidential debates or interviews disguised as debates, his opponents and critics said he could not be a leader and neither be relied upon. But they never raised these phrases when his opponents were themselves absent in other fora.

The latest they have thought of was the so-called P203 billion estate tax being reportedly pursued by the national government from the Marcos family after the patriarch, Ferdinand Marcos Sr., president of this country from December 30, 1965, to February 25, 1986, died in exile in Honolulu on September 28, 1989.

Depending on which side your persuasions are, you would most likely ignore for much long as the arguments raised by the side you are not on.

Marcos’ presidential opponents have also jumped into the estate tax bandwagon, telling those who would like to listen to them that if they would be elected, they would pursue Marcos and his family and insist they pay the P203 billion estate tax, which rose from the P23 billion at the time of Marcos’ death.

We are overwhelmed with bewilderment that this issue, first raised by retired Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio, a known pro-Robredo supporter and convenor of 1Sambayan, an opposition political alliance, in his column in a known opposition leaning English broadsheet, appeared to be the apple of Marcos’ political foes more than a month to Election Day.

With Marcos’ critics’ slogan “Never Again,” we wonder why they never raised this issue when he ran in Ilocos Norte after returning from Hawaii, when he ran for the 2nd congressional district of Ilocos Norte, when he ran for the Senate, and when he ran for vice president in the fraud-marred 2016 elections.

Or even when his sister, Imee, ran for governor of Ilocos Norte, ran for congresswoman, and then for the Senate.

The older Marcos died in 1989 – that’s more than 30 years ago. Have not the successor administrations done their respective tasks to collect Marcos’ estate tax? Why are the critics raising this issue now?

Not that it should have expired. But we are boggled by the timing.

Assuming, arguendo, that the living Marcoses must pay the estate tax, there have been several tax and legal eagles who have said Bongbong Marcos cannot be faulted for his family’s failure to settle its estate tax liabilities.

One taxation lawyer, Juan Pince Enrile, has stressed that the cases have to be settled first before the Bureau of Internal Revenue can demand that Marcos Jr. and former first lady Imelda Marcos, the administrators of the family state, settle the tax debts.

According to Enrile, the job of an estate administrator “is to gather the assets, gather the liabilities, and then establish the plan of partition, sell the assets to pay the liabilities.

If the administrators are not able to sell the assets to liquidate the liabilities, and if they indicate his in their tax returns, no violation exists.

More on this after the Holy Week. (ai/mtvn)

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