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Business Mirror : PFP lawyer slams Carpio for ‘mind bending’ opinion

News & Interviews
11 January 2022

By Business Mirror

THE top lawyer of Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) has slammed what he deemed a move by former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio to play loose with facts on the tax issue used as basis for the filing of petitions to disqualify former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. or cancel his Certificate of Candidacy (COC) as presidential candidate in the May 9 elections.

Atty. George S. Briones, veteran election lawyer and PFP’s general counsel, said “Carpio’s mind-bending legal theory is intentional political propaganda meant to support his distant second presidential candidate, for if BBM were not leading in the surveys these DQ [disqualification] cases would not have been filed against him in the Comelec [Commission of Elections].”

Briones explained that: “At the time Justice Carpio wrote his column on the disqualification of respondent on 28 October 2021, his presidential candidate Vice President Leni Robredo indorsed by his 1Sambayan was trailing badly in the polls, a far number two to respondent who had a 47 percent nationwide preference whereas Robredo had 18 percent, or a difference of 29 percentage points despite all the efforts of the vice president and her followers to improve her lot.”

Thus, if the Comelec will grant these petitions, Briones said, “It will establish a terrible precedent where all candidates badly trailing in the polls as the number two, will now file similar petitions to disqualify the number one in the polls, so even if they actually become the loser in the elections, they will be proclaimed the winner by litigation according to the case of Jalosjos penned by Justice Carpio himself.”

Briones was referring to what he described as Carpio’s remark that Marcos Jr. is disqualified to run for the presidency because he is a certified convict for not paying his income tax discrepancies and fines, as ordered by the Court of Appeals (CA), despite the former senator having presented proofs of payment.

Briones, also a graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Law like Carpio, pointed out to his colleague the finer points of the DQ cases and the petition to cancel Marcos’ COC:

1. The petition to cancel the COC is not a petition to enforce payment of a fine or deficiency taxes imposed as a penalty in a case that became final and executory in 1997. That is not the issue in this petition.

2. The petitions for disqualifications are likewise not petitions to enforce a judgment rendered in 1997.

3. Such issue could not even be raised now as prescription of penalties has set in.

4. The root issues here are whether or not BBM was ever imposed the penalty of perpetual disqualification in any court decision.

5. In both kinds of petitions, the petitioners have not shown that the penalty of perpetual disqualification was ever imposed on BBM. Hence, with or without payment of the fine or service of penalty, there is no perpetual disqualification in the first place to be removed because no such penalty was ever imposed.

6. BBM is not a convicted criminal as what Carpio, and his cohorts are saying. He was acquitted of the charges of tax evasion and so the penalties of imprisonment were removed by the Appellate Court.

7. BBM was only imposed a “fine” (Section 252 of NIRC (National Internal Revenue Code), and not “perpetual disqualification” (Section 254 of NIRC). The CA reversed the conviction of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court and acquitted BBM of tax evasion.

Briones reminded Carpio that Marcos Jr. has paid these fines and deficiency taxes meted out on him by the CA in its decision of October 31, 1997 and that CA decision specifically stated that the respondent shall pay the full amount of his tax payables to the Bureau of Internal Revenue. “When Justice Carpio called BBM a certified convict, it is like calling all of us who also paid our fines for our traffic violations to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority as certified convicts too. Justice Carpio is just making a mountain out of a molehill,” Briones said.

He said that under Article 89 of the Revised Penal Code, criminal liability is “totally extinguished” by the “prescription of penalties.” Assuming as Carpio says that BBM did not pay his fine in court, the failure of the court sheriff to execute said penalty of fine against Marcos has caused this penalty to prescribe under Article 89 of the Revised Penal Code, which totally extinguished his criminal liability, Briones said.

“Besides, double jeopardy has also set in. Petitioners cannot be allowed to reopen this tax case and re-litigate Marcos, Jr. before the Comelec for his criminal tax liability,” said Briones.

PFP’s general counsel offered his schoolmate another legal theory: “If Marcos, Jr. were meted the same exact penalty by the CA today, even if he did not pay his deficiency taxes and fines, he could still run for President because the judgment did not impose upon him the penalty of perpetual disqualification to hold office, and he was not sentenced to a penalty of more than 18 months imprisonment, or convicted with a crime involving moral turpitude.”

“Both Section 252 (perpetual disqualification) and Section 254 (fine) in the Tax Code are separate penalties that maybe imposed by the Appellate Court. Clearly, the Court imposed the penalty of fine under Section 254 only, and expressly deleted the penalty of perpetual disqualification under Section 252 in its Decision dated 31st October 1997. This DECISION is now IMMUTABLE notwithstanding Justice Carpio and his silly legal theory,” explained Briones. 30