By Michelle R. Guillang | Daily Tribune
The lawyer of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Thursday said retired Supreme Court (SC) Justice Antonio Carpio is “deceiving the electorate” for insisting that the presidential aspirant is a “certified convict” and, thus, not qualified to seek the top post in the May 2022 elections.
Attorney Victor Rodriguez slammed Carpio’s statements as uncalled for, especially as these were made on the eve of a hearing set by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to receive all arguments whether Marcos should be allowed to run for president or not.
“The continuing caper of retired Justice Carpio to deceive the electorate is not only uncalled for but does not deserve our time, nor [does it] merit the Filipino people’s attention,” Rodriguez told Daily Tribune in a text message.
He made the statement in response to Carpio’s remark that Marcos being a convict, is disqualified to run for president and to participate in any election.
In a virtual press conference organized Thursday by 1Sambayan, Carpio said Marcos has not served his sentence in his tax evasion cases ordered by the Court of Appeals. 1Sambayan is a “pro-democracy” coalition led by Carpio, former Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo and former SC Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales.
It was not the first time that Carpio, a former acting chief justice, made public a similar legal argument. He had written extensively about Marcos’ tax evasion case in his column in another paper.
On Thursday, Carpio said that Marcos remains a “certified convict” who should not be allowed to vote or participate in any election in the country.
Rodriguez called it a “poorly scripted and laughable political antic.”
Marcos filed his candidacy for president in October, attracting a lot of criticisms.
In the weeks that followed, the Comelec received eight different petitions seeking either his disqualification or the cancellation of his certificate of candidacy. The body has resolved two of these in his favor.
It leaves six still pending, including the petition filed by a group led by human right lawyer Theodore Te, which claims that Marcos Jr. committed “multiple false material representations” in his certificate when he declared that he was eligible to seek the presidency despite the conviction.
Last night, Daily Tribune received reports that Comelec has dismissed another case in favor of Marcos.
A trial court in Quezon City convicted Marcos in 1995 for failing to submit his income tax return and to pay income taxes from 1982 to 1985 as governor of Ilocos Norte.
The conviction and fines issued by the trial court were maintained by the Court of Appeals in 1997, but the seven-year prison sentence was removed. As Marcos dropped his appeal before the Supreme Court in 2001, the decision became final.
Echoing Te’s arguments, Carpio reiterated in the press conference that Marcos was ineligible due to the conviction under two separate laws — the Omnibus Election Code and the Tax Code.
He said Marcos’ tax evasion case can be considered as a crime of moral turpitude which constitutes perpetual disqualification from holding public office under Sec. 12 of the election code.
Marcos had presented in a news conference a certification from the Bureau of Internal Revenue indicating that he has fully paid his taxes and fine in his tax case.
However, the petitioners secured a court certification showing that Marcos Jr. had no record of compliance with the penalties.
The Comelec will still have to reconcile the conflicting documents today.
WITH SUNDY LOCUS AND GAB HUMILDE VILLEGAS