By Louis "Barok" Biraogo | Manila Standard
“BBM possesses none of those disqualifications.”
Last week, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) dismissed a petition to declare presidential bet and ex-Senator Bongbong Marcos (BBM) a nuisance candidate.
Ironically, the petition against BBM was filed by Danilo Lihaylihay, a marginal candidate for president in the coming polls. In the 2016 national elections, the Comelec declared Lihaylihay a nuisance candidate.
Under the Omnibus Election Code, one who seeks elective public office is a nuisance candidate if he intends to put the election process in mockery or disrepute; or he seeks to cause confusion among voters through the similarity of his name and that of another candidate; or he has no genuine intention to run for office.
In dismissing Lihaylihay’s nonsense suit, the Comelec declared that his petition is based on sweeping statements and unfounded allegations. The Comelec added that, contrary to what Lihaylihay alleged in his petition, BBM is a bona fide candidate as confirmed by BBM’s election to public office on earlier occasions, his status as a leading presidential bet in the current election surveys, and the fact that he has a political party supporting his current run for the presidency.
The Comelec also scored Lihaylihay for his failure to attach to his petition the necessary documents to support his prayer against BBM.
In 2018, Lihaylihay made an unsuccessful attempt to ask the Supreme Court to compel the government to pay him an informer’s reward for his purported efforts to recover the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family supposedly acquired during the administration of BBM’s father, the late President Ferdinand Marcos.
Although the Comelec has not, as of this writing anyway, declared Lihaylihay a nuisance candidate, it appears from all indications that he is one. Nothing of consequence or significance is known about him, he never held high elective public office, and it is very doubtful if he will even make it to a striking distance at the presidency in the coming election campaign. If he’s lucky, Lihaylihay may just end up in seventh place in the presidential race.
In other words, the Comelec dismissed the nuisance petition filed by that nonsensical and nuisance candidate Lihaylihay, which sought to declare BBM a nuisance candidate.
Election facts are, indeed, stranger than fiction.
Speaking of nonsense, a so-called “convenor” of the virtually inexistent and practically inutile anti-government group called 1Sambayan has his own nonsense to peddle to the unsuspecting public.
According to “convenor” Howard Calleja, who spoke to the media in a clumsy mix of English and Tagalog, BBM remains disqualified for elective public office even if BBM has already paid his tax liabilities, because a conviction for tax evasion carries with it the accessory penalty of disqualification from holding public office.
Calleja claims that BBM’s supposed conviction for tax evasion by a court of law is enough to bar BBM from running for president.
There are manifest flaws in Calleja’s argument.
First, the only court ruling that applies to BBM’s disqualification cases currently pending before the Comelec is the decision of the Court of Appeals promulgated in 2001.
The Court of Appeals acquitted BBM of the tax evasion charges against him, but found that BBM did not file his income tax returns when he was governor of Ilocos Norte from 1982 to 1985. There is nothing in the decision of the Court of Appeals which declared BBM disqualified from holding public office.
That decision of the Court of Appeals became final and executory and is now beyond review by the Supreme Court. In addition, the Comelec has no power to modify a decision of the Court of Appeals.
Second, the accessory penalty of disqualification mentioned by Calleja applies only to crimes penalized under the Revised Penal Code. Tax evasion is a crime under the National Internal Revenue Code. It is not covered by the Revised Penal Code.
Third, the laws invoked against BBM in the disqualification cases against him in the Comelec were enacted after BBM was no longer a provincial governor. The Constitution prohibits the retroactive application of those laws against BBM.
Fourth, as I pointed out in a previous essay, the only grounds to disqualify a candidate for president are those stated in the Constitution, and BBM possesses none of those disqualifications.
Being a lawyer, Calleja ought to know all that.
His 1Sambayan embodies nonsense and is insignificant. Although 1Sambayan endorsed the presidential run of Vice President Leni Robredo, the latter refuses to be identified with 1Sambayan. In fact, no one among BBM’s rivals for the presidency wants to be associated with 1Sambayan.
When 1Sambayan was sloppily launched in June 2021, retired Supreme Court Justices Antonio Carpio and Conchita Carpio-Morales, and ex-Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, were mainstays of the group. Their conspicuous absence from the political scene since last October is proof that 1Sambayan should not be taken seriously.