Manila Standard : Harassment against BBM makes him more popular

19 February 2022

By Rod Kapunan | Manila Standard

“This case is worrisome.”

This is the only country where the opposition refuses to accept the finality of a court decision. The case against BBM has long been decided by the court and adjudged final. Litigants must therefore accept the verdict. Our acceptance of the decision is our submission to due process and respect for the rule of law. Otherwise, there will be no end in court litigation and that could lead to chaos.

The case of BBM is worrisome because the court has already acquitted him except that he should pay the fine and deficiency taxes as ordered. What gets the case against him much confusing is that the court acquitted him of the alleged crime and erased the penalty of imprisonment by letting him pay the fine and deficiency income taxes with interest.

We, the voting public, could only surmise why the court erased the penalty of imprisonment based on the premise he did not commit a crime. It would be inconceivable and illogical to punish a man when the court itself finds him not guilty of the crime alluded to. To maintain that the accused is not guilty of nonpayment of tax would be anachronistic to punishing him.

On the other hand, to demand that the Comelec cancel his certificate of candidacy is to collaterally charge BBM for a crime for which he was acquitted. Instead of the charge of non-payment of tax, the petitioners proceeded to directly disqualify him. For what? Note that the petition for the cancellation of his COC presupposes he was found guilty of the charge alluded to notwithstanding that the petition is a prohibition for him to exercise his right to participate in the electoral process for which he was not convicted.

The disallowance of his COC is obviously different from his alleged non-payment of tax but the circumstances are similar except that the disqualification prejudge that BBM as guilty of a crime to which he has acquitted.

To accept the newly hatched charge against him is to circumvent altogether the case against BBM. Retired commissioner Rowena Guanzon miserably failed to grasp this point.

Once the Comelec disqualifies BBM, he will forever be disqualified to run again for public office. Filing a different case for which he was acquitted is a modification of the case after the court erased that portion of the decision on the basis that BBM is not guilty of the alleged crime. The petition to disallow his COC in the guise of charging him a different crime amounts to an imposition of ex post facto law. BBM cannot be punished for an event that has yet to happen. Cancelling one’s COC is necessarily premised on conviction of a crime and carries the penalty of disqualification.

This is a classic case of a crime metamorphosing to one which an accused has already been acquitted. It is inferentially it revives a case that has long been decided. As people sees it, the petition was filed by disgruntled group of anti-Marcos. In which case, such is beyond the jurisdiction of the Comelec to decide. The petitioners are deeply embedded in their cocoon of hatred and bigotry that blinds their objectivity, fairness, and rationality.

Allegedly, BBM has been convicted of a crime involving one of moral turpitude. There is in that allegation of retired justice Antonio Carpio a prejudgment of the case. Do these people understand what the system of withholding tax is?

The Court of Appeals decision dated Oct. 21, 1997 states, “[it] did not categorically hold that [Marcos] is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude nor did it positively pronounce that [he is] meted the penalty of imprisonment of more than 18 months. There is likewise no definitive declaration by the said decision that herein respondent is perpetually disqualified from holding public office.”

The case has long been decided, and BBM has been elected several times to public office. In no instance has a case been filed and decided against him, except today where there is a great probability he will elected as our next President.

How can the petitioners claim nonpayment of tax when the liability is based on our application of our system of withholding tax, meaning that tax is collected not from the taxpayer but from their employer? Whatever deficiency left in the amount of tax liability, it is the company’s fault, which in this case is the government, BBM being an elected government official.

The only unusual thing is that the lady who claims to have been elected vice president in 2016 did not join the petition to disqualify BBM from running. This is a wonder because if there is anybody who is concerned in preventing his election, it is none other than Robredo. Disqualifying BBM is a vindication that she is more qualified to be elected and probably can shout to the whole world she deserves to be elected President than her political rival.

If truly she believes she is right in her judgment of her political rival, she should have joined the petition. It will not only serve to vindicate her that BBM is not qualified but could equally affirm she was elected vice president in 2016 by the Filipino people. Alas, she refused to join which now puzzles many why she strangely inhibited from joining the petition.

Before Rowena Guanzon retired as Comelec commissioner, she created a bruhaha by purposely leaking her decision disqualifying BBM as presidential candidate. She purposely leaked her obiter because the case was never assigned to her as ponente. Thus, in a bid to compel the Comelec to include her decision, with her misplaced decision disqualifying BBM, that obiter was excluded for the fact that she already retired from the service.

Hence, the majority of the commissioners released the decision after she retired as commissioner without much fanfare by excluding her obiter. Guanzon tried to make an issue against Commissioners Marlo Casquejo and Aimee Ferolino of the First Division who upheld to dismiss the disqualification of BBM.

To cover up her crime of leaking the decision before it could officially be released by the Comelec, Guanzon now makes a howl that the decision was purposely delayed to exclude her misplaced judgment. But she could not cite any provision setting the time limit for the Comelec to submit their decision within the period to make them liable. Guanzon tried to be cocky not to cite any provision because she was still in the service when it happened, and that could possibly make her liable.

Speaking of the balance in the payment of income tax, BBM was made to pay the deficiency but it was the government agency that failed to deduct the right amount due to the government.

As official who has been elected to several position at various times, that duty to prevent the court from deciding cases rest on the lawyers to prevent them from peddling decided cases. Lawyers can be held liable for possible disbarment. BBM would have nothing to do with this kind of fraudulent misrepresentation of seeking to retry the case that has long been decided.