By Artemio V. Panganiban | Inquirer.net
In this space last Sunday, I wrote that “if the petitioners can show that BB’s [Bongbong Marcos’]… alleged payment is false, inadequate, or ill-timed, his COC [certificate of candidacy] should be canceled; if they cannot, he should be allowed to continue his quest.”
SINCE THEN, TWO DOCUMENTS HAVE SURFACED. The first is a “Certification” issued by Rowena Sto. Tomas-Bacud, “Officer-In-Charge” of Branch 105 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City (RTC-QC) certifying that “there is no record on file of (c)ompliance of payment or satisfaction of the Decision of the… Court of Appeals dated October 31, 1997…” This document, petitioners argue, prove that BB is not entitled to the prescriptive period of five years and, to this date, is perpetually disqualified from holding any public office.
The second document is an “Official Receipt” issued by the Land Bank in favor of “MARCOS JR. FERDINAND” dated “12-27-01” showing the payment of “LEASE RENTAL, INSTALLMENT, INTEREST and PRINCIPAL” totaling “P67,137.27.” (All caps in original). BB’s supporters contend that with this payment made on Dec. 27, 2001, the prescriptive period has lapsed and BB is now freed from the perpetual disqualification imposed by Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code. Thus, he was not lying when he said in his COC that he was “eligible” (or not disqualified) from holding a public office.
NOW, MY HUMBLE OPINION. Final decisions of appellate tribunals like the Supreme Court (SC) and the Court of Appeals (CA) are normally enforced or “executed” by the courts of origin, usually the RTCs. The petitioners insist that the “Certification” shows that BB has not paid the fine and the tax delinquency ordered by the CA decision, Thus, he lied (or committed a false material representation) when he stated in his COC that he was “eligible” for the presidency.
However, I think Rowena Bacud is merely the OIC of Branch 105 of the RTC-QC. The official who should certify is the clerk of court (Gregorio C. Tallud) of the entire RTC-QC station made up of 57 branches. His office is authorized to receive payments of fines which normally become parts of the Judiciary Development Fund. If the petitioners can secure a similar “certification” from Tallud, their argument could gain cogency.
On the other hand, the “Official Receipt” presented by BB’s supporters is vague. On its face, it made no reference to the CA disposition which consists of two parts: “(a) Ordering (BB) to pay the BIR the deficiency income taxes due with interest at the legal rate until fully paid, and (b) Ordering BB to pay a fine of P2,000.00 for each charge in Criminal Cases Nos… for failure to file [his] income tax returns [ITR] for the years 1982, 1983 and 1984; and the fine of P30,000.00 in Criminal Case No… for failure to file (his ITR) for 1985, with surcharges.”
Clearly, under item (a), the deficiency income taxes are to be paid to the BIR. Assuming the Land Bank is authorized to accept the payment of BB’s deficiency income taxes on behalf of the BIR, BB’s supporters need to explain how the total of “P67,137.27” is to be applied to BB’s deficiency income taxes, and why the said total is adequate to satisfy both items (a) and (b).
Also, BB’s supporters must explain, if they can, why the fines mentioned in item (b) were not paid to the clerk of court of the RTC-QC station, and how the total of “P67,137.27” satisfied item (b) of the CA decision.
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I FELICITATE JUSTICE JOSE MIDAS P. MARQUEZ who, after being nominated a record 13 times by the Judicial and Bar Council, was finally promoted to the SC. His appointment brings to six the SC justices from Ateneo de Manila (plus a seventh from Ateneo de Davao)—one of them is the current Chief Justice — easily besting the UP College of Law, the traditional “top producer,” with only three. San Beda has also three while UST and UE have one each.
The “homegrown SC justice” began his judicial career in 1991 before his graduation from law school in 1993 as an apprentice and later as an executive assistant in the high court. After obtaining his law degree and passing the bar exam, he became a law clerk of Senior Justice Josue N. Bellosillo where I met him in 1995 when I joined the Court. He was the Supreme Court’s court administrator from January 2010 till his recent promotion as an associate justice. As the second youngest member of the Court, he will serve his term till his 70th birthday on Feb. 16, 2036. (The youngest is Justice Ramon Paul I. Hernando who will serve till Aug. 27, 2036).