A US-based Filipino lawyer who is also the dean of Northwestern University College of Law has dismantled the issues raised in each of the seven petitions to cancel the Certificate of Candidacy of presidential aspirant Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr.
Atty. Emmanuel Samonte Tipon wrote an opinion piece providing legal arguments against the petitions seeking to cancel or deny due course to Marcos’ CoC, or that he be declared as a nuisance candidate.
He said there is no serious question that Marcos meets the requirements under Article VII, Section 2 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution: “No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least forty years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding such election.”
Tipon added that Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines, which states: “Any person who has . . . been sentenced . . . for a crime involving moral turpitude, shall be disqualified to be a candidate and to hold any office,” does not supplement the 1987 Constitution and therefore does not modify the eligibility requirements for the Presidency.
The law dean also believes that Marcos is not disqualified under Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) for having been sentenced to pay only a fine for not filing income tax returns since it is not a crime involving moral turpitude.
“Marcos is not disqualified under OEC Sec. 12 because it does not define what constitutes a “crime involving moral turpitude.” Therefore, like beauty, a “crime involving moral turpitude” is in the eye of the beholder. This makes the statute unconstitutionally void for vagueness and violates the due process provision of the Constitution,” Tipon said.
He pointed out that the Supreme Court “specifically held” that Marcos’s “failure to file an income tax return is not a crime involving moral turpitude,” hence, he was not disqualified from becoming an executor of his father’s will back in 2009.
The law dean also held that Marcos did not make any material misrepresentation when he marked No in Question 22 of the COC form. Tipon said, “Question 22 is not relevant to the eligibility requirements for President specified in the Constitution because a conviction for any offense does not automatically bar eligibility.”
Tipon is the latest among legal luminaries, who are neither Marcos supporters nor lawyering for him, who have rendered opinions deeming the petitions as without legal basis or mere nuisance.
Last month, Ateneo Law Professor and former Justice Secretary Alberto Agra said the disqualification case against Marcos has no basis and is unlikely to move forward.
UST College of Law Dean Nilo Divina said that the petition filed against Marcos’s CoC would likely fail because it is defective in form and lacks sufficient legal basis.
Last week, more than a dozen lawyers from Ateneo who are members of the Fraternal Order of Utopia offered their free services to Marcos as part of his vote protection team.
Tipon was a Fulbright and Smith-Mundt scholar when he took up his Master of Laws at Yale Law School. He obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines. He practices federal law and is admitted to practice before the US Supreme Court, New York, and the Philippines.