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CNN Philippines : Legal experts see weakness of petitions for Marcos disqualification

News & Interviews
7 November 2021

By CNN Philippines

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 7) – Two legal experts think the petitions seeking the disqualification of Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. in the 2022 presidential race will not succeed.

University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Law Dean Nilo Divina said the petition filed by civic leaders last Nov. 2 with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) focused only on the Marcos family and failed to present any factual and legal basis on why Bongbong must be disqualified from the presidential polls.

"It's ad hominem, or an attack against the character of the respondent, that may weaken the petitioners' position. It is the law, always, that matters," said Divina.

Meanwhile, former Justice Secretary Alberto Agra said that he sees no defects in Marcos' certificate of candidacy (COC) as the case filed against him is not concerning tax evasion but only a failure to file his income tax returns (ITRs) from 1982 to 1985.

Agra added that Marcos' act of failing to file his ITRs is not a crime involving moral turpitude.

Under the Omnibus Election Code, a candidate's COC may be cancelled if the person is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude or found guilty and punished with more than 18 months of imprisonment.

"Ang nakalagay sa batas ay kailangan sentenced, may final judgement of imprisonment. Ang nangyari nang binasa ko ang kaso, wala si presidentiable BBM, hindi siya sentenced to imprisonment. Guilty siya to pay fine," said Agra.

[Translation: What is provided in the law is the candidate should be sentenced and there is a final judgement of imprisonement. When I read the case, presidentiable BBM was not sentenced to imprisonment. He's only guilty to pay fine.]

The two petitions set to be filed this week by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan chairperson Carol Araullo and Dr. Rommel Bautista highlight that Marcos lied in his COC, after checking the box that stated he is qualified to run for office even though he was found guilty for not filing his ITRs.

The petitions also pointed out that based on the National Internal Revenue Code, those who have violated tax laws are perpetually banned from holding public office.

The camp of Marcos maintained that his conviction for failure to file ITRs is not tantamount to tax evasion.