2nd DQ case filed vs Marcos
MANILA, Philippines — A second petition was filed on Monday seeking to void the candidacy of presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., though the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has yet to act on a similar petition filed a week ago.
A group of taxpayers led by Dr. Rommel Bautista echoed the points raised by the first group of petitioners who were mostly composed of activists who fought against the dictatorship of Marcos Jr.’s father.
The second petition said Marcos falsely stated in his certificate of candidacy (COC) that he was eligible to run when in fact he had been convicted for tax offenses in 1995 and the conviction became final in 2001.
The 1997 National Internal Revenue Code (Section 253) penalizes public officials and employees who are convicted of tax offenses with perpetual disqualification from voting and holding public office, they said.
Marcos was convicted by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) on July 27, 1995, for failure to file income tax returns and pay income taxes from 1982 to 1985 when he was vice governor and later governor of Ilocos Norte during the martial law regime of his father, the late president Ferdinand Marcos.
On Oct. 31, 1997, the Court of Appeals upheld the conviction and the fines imposed by the trial court but removed the seven-year prison term.
The conviction became final after Marcos withdrew his appeal with the Supreme Court in 2001.
Comelec urged: Act ASAP
One of the original petitioners on Tuesday urged the Comelec to resolve the petition as soon as possible, after it was reported that the case had been raffled off to the Comelec’s Second Division.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez has yet to confirm this.
“Our petition is plain and simple: Bongbong Marcos declared under oath that he has never been found liable for any offense that carries the penalty of perpetual disqualification from public office when in fact he had been convicted for repeated tax evasion by the courts,” said Fides Lim, spokesperson for the political detainees’ support group Kapatid.
“This is a matter of fact and the law is clear. The Comelec must exercise its mandated duty to cancel the certificate of candidacy of a disqualified individual running for office based on a final conviction,” she added.
Under Comelec procedures, the division has to issue summons to Marcos, who has five days to formally respond to the petition.
The poll body would call a preconference and the parties would be given three days to submit their respective memorandums summarizing their arguments and evidence.
The case will then be considered submitted for resolution. Under Section 8 of the Comelec’s rules of procedure, the division has to resolve the case within 10 days.
The second group of petitioners reminded the Comelec of its “legal duty” to cancel—on its own volition—the COC of anyone barred from running for public office by virtue of a final judgment of conviction.
The petitioners cited precedents set in 2012 Supreme Court rulings on three cases: Efren Aratea v. Comelec, Dominador Jalosjos v. Comelec, and Agapito Cardino v. Dominador Jalosjos.
“The Supreme Court held that the commission’s act of denying due course to and/or canceling a COC in view of a candidate’s disqualification to run for elective office based on a final conviction is subsumed under its mandate to enforce and administer all laws relating to the conduct of elections,” they added.
Leni: No hand in DQ bids
Also on Tuesday, Vice President Leni Robredo denied having a hand in the pending disqualification cases against Marcos.
“We are not dictators, so why would we dictate the petitioners to (do anything)? But if Mr. Marcos believes there is no ground for the petition to prosper, then he has nothing to fear,” Robredo said, speaking before members of the Rotary Club of Makati.
Robredo defeated Marcos in the 2016 vice presidential race. He questioned the results but his election protest was dismissed in February 2021.
Robredo’s remarks on Tuesday prompted lawyer Howard Calleja, legal counsel for one of the petitioners, to maintain that his clients and the Vice President had never talked about the matter at all.
Calleja is also one of the conveners of the opposition coalition 1Sambayan, which has endorsed Robredo for president.
“We had never coordinated with Robredo on the petition,’’ Calleja said.
On Monday, at a press briefing in Tacloban City, Marcos dismissed the petition as a “nuisance complaint,” saying he remained “very confident” that the Comelec would not cancel his COC.
He also called on Robredo to “tell her allies to withdraw it if that is her opinion.’’
His spokesperson, Victor Rodriguez, urged the opposition to stop using the Comelec to derail Marcos’ candidacy.
“Do not use the Comelec as a stage for your very dirty and deceptive kind of political propaganda,” Rodriguez said in a statement.
“We will not be distracted by all these yellow political ruckus and we remain committed to presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos’ vow to bring that brand of unifying leadership in the country,” he said, referring to the Liberal Party’s campaign color.
—With a report from Nestor Corrales INQ
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