Manila Standard : Agra: No basis to junk Marcos candidacy paper

5 November 2021

By Rey E. Requejo | Manila Standard

The petition filed to cancel the certificate of candidacy of presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. has no basis and is unlikely to move forward, former Justice Secretary and Ateneo Law School professor Alberto Agra said on Friday.

Agra stressed it was clearly stated in the Omnibus Election Code that Marcos was qualified and eligible to run for president in 2022 elections and had no shortcomings in his COC submission.

“It is stated in our Omnibus Election Code that (candidates) must not be convicted. Other terms are provided in the law. The law provides that it must be sentenced, with a final judgment of imprisonment. What happened when I read the case— it does not apply to presidentiable BBM. He was not sentenced to imprisonment. He is guilty of paying a fine,” Agra said.

Clarifying that he is not a Marcos lawyer or supporter, Agra stressed that based on his analysis of the case, it appears that Marcos’ case is not tax evasion, but simply failure to file his income tax return.

The law states that to cancel the COC of any candidate, he or she must be found guilty and punished with more than 18 months of imprisonment and be convicted of a crime involving “moral turpitude.”

“Moral turpitude, if you are a bit rude, immoral, you really want to cheat or commit fraud. The question now is: is not filing an income tax return a crime involving moral turpitude? Of course not,” Agra said.

The last Justice Secretary under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also pointed out there is no final judgment in Marcos’ case because it has not yet reached the Supreme Court.

“He is guilty (for failure to file ITR) but only a fine, no imprisonment,” Agra noted, explaining that this is far from the basis for disqualifying a candidate.

He also asserted that the Supreme Court has already made a decision that also clarified the issue.

“In the same case that Justice Antonio Carpio was the ponente, the Supreme Court says that the crime involving moral turpitude is fraudulent filing of the tax return. It’s not moral turpitude, if non-filing of the income tax return. Non-filing will be moral turpitude if it is mixed with fraud,” Agra argued.

In the case of Marcos: “This is not moral turpitude because it has not been proven that there was fraud,” he said.

Marcos’ camp had earlier said the new petition filed against them was rubbish and only part of the opponent’s dirty or gutter politics.