Former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban said proof of payment of court-ordered fines for presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos’ tax conviction could lead to the dismissal of multiple petitions opposing his 2022 bid.
In his December 5 Inquirer column, the former Supreme Court chief explored the multiple arguments raised by petitioners against Marcos Jr.’s presidential run, claiming he is ineligible for office due to being convicted for not filing his income tax returns from 1982-1985, with at least the 1985 return covered by the amendment to the Tax Code punishing any violation with a perpetual ban from public office.
“Stripped of legalese, the main issues to oust Bongbong (BB) Marcos from the presidential race are: Did BB commit false material representations in his certificate of candidacy (COC) and did his conviction by the Court of Appeals (CA) involve moral turpitude?,” Panganiban wrote.
While he agreed that Section 74 of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC), Marcos’ certificate of candidacy may be canceled for making a false claim –– in this case, that he is eligible to run for office despite knowing that he has been convicted of a tax violation.
“At first sight, these laws and jurisprudence seem to favor the Petition because the CA’s decision finding BB guilty of a failure to file his ITRs for 1982 to1985 indirectly prohibited him from holding any public office. But the prohibition became effective only on Jan. 1. 1986; thus, it cannot be retroactively applied to his ITRs for 1982 to 1984. Nonetheless, the prohibition covered his ITR for 1985 which was due on April 15, 1986,” the abogado said.
:However, the payment of the fines — if true, timely, and adequate as alleged by the AI — may save BB because under Section 12 of the OEC, the disqualification expires five years from ‘his service of the sentence,’” Panganiban added. “The payment of the fine is the ‘service of the sentence.’ Therefore, he did not commit a ‘false material representation’ in alleging in his COC that he was ‘eligible,’ or in denying any liability for perpetual disqualification.”
For the veteran lawyer, petitioners could be better off in proving that Marcos ever committed a crime involving moral turpitude as the basis of the disqualification or cancellation.
“In sum, if the petitioners can show that BB’s conviction by the CA (Court of Appeals) involves moral turpitude and that the five-year prescriptive period does not embrace moral turpitude, or his alleged payment is false, inadequate, or ill-timed, his COC should be canceled; if they cannot, he should be allowed to continue his quest,” Panganiban said.