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Manila Standard : Miscalculating the risk

News & Interviews
4 November 2021

By Charlie V. Manalo | Manila Standard

"The petition won't fly."

The other day, staunch critics of the Marcoses filed a petition before the Commission on Elections seeking to disqualify former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. from running in next year’s presidential election.

Apparently, they took cue from former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio who was the first to voice his opinion regarding the possibility of Marcos’ disqualification due to his earlier “conviction” for failure to file an income tax return and non-payment of deficiency taxes.

In their three-page petition, they argued that Marcos should be disqualified for having misrepresented his eligibility in his CoC, as having been convicted of “a crime which carries a penalty of perpetual disqualification from public office and for his repeated violations of the NIRC (National Internal Revenue Code) and his continued evasion/non-payment of taxes renders his conviction as one involving moral turpitude.”

The petitioners cited the 1985 Presidential Decree No. 1994, which amended the 1977 tax code upon which Marcos was convicted as they stressed that failure to file ITRs for multiple years is a crime of moral turpitude. The election code disqualifies a person who has been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude.

This writer sought the reaction of the Marcos camp, but lawyer Vic Rodriguez says they’d rather answer the issue at the proper forum.

“We shall address this predictable nuisance Petition at the proper time and forum – after we receive the OFFICIAL copy of the same,” Rodriguez’s statement read.

“Until then, we will refrain from commenting on their propaganda. Our camp does NOT engage in gutter politics. Our campaign is about nation building,” he stressed, adding that “for Presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos, this election is about the future of the Filipino people.”

Anyway, this writer doesn’t believe this petition will fly as it has long been resolved by the Supreme court. If anything, this petition only aims to serve as another propaganda tactic.

The petitioners themselves having taken cue from a former Associate Justice knows they are bound to fail but are banking on a notion that this would help distract Marcos and put a halt to his surging momentum.

Unfortunately, they miscalculated the risk as their scheme is about to turn into a vaccine which would immunize Marcos, or BBM to his supporters, from their future attacks.

In PR parlance, a vaccine is considered a deliberate move to attack one’s own client with a negative propaganda which would later turn out to be fake, thus, everything that will be hurled their client’s way will be branded as fake.

In 2010, the late Noynoy Aquino’s PR handler was accused of producing a fake psychological report, preempting those who might be holding a genuine report from producing their own copies.

Recently, a PR handler of Leni Robredo has also been alleged to be resorting to such tactic when a reporter aired a news report regarding Robredo’s caravan accusing the candidate of paying those who participated in the event as being paid, even without producing a video or sound clip from anyone of the participant issuing such statement. Only a fool would air such a report. And how come the station allowed such a report to be aired? But in so doing, anyone who would accuse Robredo of paying participants in any of her future events, as a peddler of fake news.

That’s how a vaccine works, and that’s about to happen with BBM with the petition they filed. After the Comelec dismisses this petition, anything that will come out from the Pinklaws camp will be labeled as black propaganda. BBM will now be immunized from their attacks, courtesy of their “vaccine.”

Carpio should know better. He was a member of the Supreme Court when it ruled on the Marcos case in August 2009.

The following are excerpts from the decision penned by then Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta:

“It is a matter of record, that in CA-G.R. CR No. 18569,36 the CA acquitted respondent Ferdinand Marcos II of all the four charges for violation of Section 50 and sustained his conviction for all the four charges for violation of Section 45. It, however, bears to stress, that the CA only ordered respondent Marcos II to pay a fine for his failure to file his income tax return. Moreover, and as admitted by petitioner, said decision is still pending appeal.”

Clearly, the conviction is not yet final as it is still pending appeal.

With regards to moral turpitude, the decision has this to say:

More importantly, even assuming arguendo that his conviction is later on affirmed, the same is still insufficient to disqualify him as the "failure to file an income tax return" is not a crime involving moral turpitude.”

“Applying the foregoing considerations to the case at bar, the filing of a "fraudulent return with intent to evade tax" is a crime involving moral turpitude as it entails willfulness and fraudulent intent on the part of the individual. The same, however, cannot be said for "failure to file a return" where the mere omission already constitutes a violation.”

Seeking reaction from lawyer and senatorial candidate, the ever loyal to the Marcoses, Larry Gadon, said the decision rendered by the lower court convicting BBM was but expected as “the courts that time were under the control of the Aquinos, and it was the time that Marcoses were relentlessly persecuted.”

The case was filed in 1995 and decision rendered in 1997 under the time of former President Fidel Ramos, who was personally anointed by the late Cory Aquino to run for president in 1992 under the administration ticket.

“But they cannot expect that from the Supreme Court as they can see what is erroneous and what persecution means,” said Gadon.

“The Supreme Court has defined the act of failure to file tax return with intent to evade taxes and circumstances on failure to file return not involving moral turpitude,” he stressed.

“BBM has a strong defense with the SC decision. He only has to submit a copy of the decision which was handed down in August 2009 pa,” he said, adding that the RTC ruling even used the term “until final judgement” referring to the Supreme Court.

I am not a legal expert but as Atty. Larry explains it, I am readily inclined to agree with him.

But for the Pinklaws? I have said this before and I will say it again. They have tried to demonize BBM and derail his quest for the presidency and failed. They are still trying and yet they are still failing. They will still keep on trying but still they will fail, and they will fail big time. The people have already made their decision.