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Daily Tribune : Should Bongbong be disqualified?

News & Interviews
13 December 2021

By Harry Roque | Daily Tribune

Thus, there should be no obstacle for Bongbong Marcos to run for the position of president.

I have been asked many times about my opinion about the possible disqualification of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

The ground for disqualification is supposedly for material misrepresentation in his Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) for the position of president, whereby he indicated that he has not been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.

Without a doubt, Bongbong Marcos was convicted for violation of a presidential decree that requires everyone to file an income tax return.

He was found guilty initially by the Regional Trial Court, and fine and imprisonment were imposed.

On appeal, this was modified by the Court of Appeals, but only a fine was imposed.

Now my personal and professional opinion is that for Bongbong Marcos to have been found guilty of material misrepresentation, the petitioners to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) must prove, foremost, that the conviction for non-filing of income tax returns is a crime involving moral turpitude. Secondly, it must be proven that the penalty imposed on him, in fact, includes moral turpitude.

Petitioner must also show that Bongbong Marcos did not pay the required fine because the accessory penalty of disqualification from public office is normally deemed served five years after it was imposed.

Now, I do not know any authority thus far who states that non-filing of tax returns involves moral turpitude.

By definition, moral turpitude means an act which shows a propensity of an individual to resort to conduct which is wholly unacceptable by civilized societies.

Instances of moral turpitude include acts involving graft and corruption, and even private crimes, such as, rape, acts of lasciviousness, as well as adultery and concubinage.

One thing going for Bongbong Marcos is that he was convicted for a violation of a special law. A special law, more often than not, does not require intent. It only requires that a prohibited act be perpetrated by the accused. In this instance, the act was the non-filing of tax returns.

Suffice it to say that my professional opinion is that non-filing of tax returns does not involve moral turpitude.

I do not think it is contested either that there was no accessory penalty of disqualification from public office imposed on him by the Court. Thus, there should be no obstacle for Bongbong Marcos to run for the position of president.

Supposing though, that for some reason, both the Comelec and the Supreme Court decide that he is otherwise disqualified, what will happen?

Well, it will exemplify one of the two instances when a substitution would be proper.

Take note that when the withdrawal is voluntary, the substitution must be made within the period prescribed by law. This was last 15 November.

But when the disqualification is carried out because of an involuntary act, such as the disqualification of a candidate by the Comelec and the Supreme Court, then what applies is the provision of the Omnibus Election Code that there could still be substitution even after the deadline for doing so.

In other words, if we consider the possibility that Bongbong Marcos is in fact deemed to be disqualified by reason of material misrepresentation in his CoC, Mayor Inday Sara Duterte could be his substitute for the position of president.

If this happens, I think my former boss, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, would be the happiest person because he feels that since Mayor Sara is the front runner in the presidential race, it is SHE who should be running for the position of president.

But let’s wait and see.

I have full faith and confidence in both the Comelec and the Supreme Court. I know that they will rule on this issue in a matter pursuant to law.

Meanwhile, I have to say that I had a very productive two weeks of campaigning with the UNITEAM of Bongbong Marcos and Mayor Inday Sara Duterte.

I am deeply honored to be campaigning with them. I am overwhelmed by the support shown by the people to the UNITEAM and to the rest of the campaign team. May the best man, or woman, succeed in May of 2022.