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Manila Bulletin : Ateneo law expert: No basis to cancel Marcos’ COC

News & Interviews
5 November 2021

By Manila Bulletin

The petition to cancel or deny the certificate of candidacy (COC) of presidential aspirant and Partido Federal ng Pilipinas standard-bearer Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. has no basis and is unlikely to move forward according to former Justice Secretary and Ateneo Law School professor Atty. Alberto Agra.

Agra, in a recent interview with DZRH, said it was clearly stated in the Omnibus Election Code that the former lawmaker was qualified and had no flaws in his COC submission.

“Nakalagay dun sa Omnibus Election Code natin na kailangan hindi convicted. Ibang termino ang nakalagay sa batas. Ang nakalagay sa batas kailangan sentenced, may final judgment of imprisonment. Ang nangyari nung binasa ko ang kaso, wala si presidentiable BBM, hindi siya sentenced to imprisonment. Guilty siya to pay a fine (It is stated in the Omnibus Election Code that you must not be convicted. It’s a different term in the law. What is stated in the law is you have to be sentenced, with a final judgment of imprisonment. What happened when I read the case, presidentiable BBM was cleared, he was not sentenced to imprisonment. He was guilty but he had to pay a fine),” Agra pointed out.

Agra added that based on his analysis of the case, it appears that the former senator’s case is not tax evasion but simply failure to file his income tax return. The former Justice secretary under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo also clarified that he is neither a Marcos lawyer or supporter.

According to the Ateneo law professor, the law states that in order to cancel the COC of a candidate, he or she must be found guilty and punished with more than 18 months imprisonment and be convicted of a crime involving ‘moral turpitude.’ “Moral turpitude, kung medyo halang ka, bastos, immoral, talagang gusto mong mandaya o manggulang. Ang tanong ngayon ‘yun bang hindi pag-file ng income tax return yun ba ay crime involving moral turpitude? Siyempre hindi (Moral turpitude, if you are slightly evil, rude, immoral, if you really want to cheat. The question now is whether the non-filing of your income tax return is a crime involving moral turpitude? Of course not),” Agra explained while adding that a final judgment in the Marcos case will come from the Supreme Court.

“Guilty siya (for failure to file ITR) pero multa lang, walang imprisonment (He was guilty (for failure to file ITR) and slapped with a fine, but no imprisonment).” He cited that the Supreme Court has already made a decision that clarified the issue.

“Sinabi ng Supreme Court na ang crime involving moral turpitude kung fraudulent filing of the tax return. Hindi moral turpitude kung non-filing of the income tax return. Magiging moral turpitude ang non-filing kung may halong fraud (The Supreme Court said that the crime involving moral turpitude is fraudulent filing of the tax return. It’s not moral turpitude if it’s non-filing of the income tax return. It will be moral turpitude if non-filing has a mix of fraud),” Agra said “Hindi siya moral turpitude kasi hindi naman napatunayan na may fraud (So it’s not moral turpitude since there was no proof of fraud).” The Marcos camp had earlier called the petition against the Ilocos Norte governor as rubbish and part of their opponent’s gutter politics. (Melvin Sarangay)