Manila Standard : UST law dean views delisting Marcos as prexy bet ‘no merit’

8 November 2021

By Rey E. Requejo | Manila Standard

Dean Nilo Divina of the Faculty of Law of the University of Santo Tomas on Sunday said the attempt by certain anti-Marcos forces to delist former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. from the roster of candidates for the 2022 presidential race would most likely fail for lack of merits.

“As I see it, the petition to cancel BBM’s Certificate of Candidacy is bound to collapse once evaluated by the Comelec because it appears to be defective in form and offers insufficient legal basis to obtain its desired judgement,” Divina said in a statement.

The law expert of Pontifical Catholic university and head of the Divina Law Office noted that instead of presenting factual statements and legal basis to support its claim of Marcos' ineligibility to run for the presidency, the narratives in the 57-page petition laid down invectives in almost all pages against the family of the respondent.

“It’s ad hominem, or an attack against the character of the respondent, that may weaken the petitioners' position. It is the law, always, that matters. However, it is the intent that invokes the law that often justifies or bungles it. But at the end of the day, the law remains, the law,” Divina said.

Divina was the second legal luminary from law universities who have expressed opinions against a petition which sought to cancel or deny Marcos' CoC because he failed to file his income tax returns.

Divina shared the view of Ateneo University law expert and former Justice Secretary Alberto Agra, saying the petition filed with the Comelec to cancel the CoC of Marcos had no basis and is unlikely to move forward.

In an interview with dzRH, Agra said it was clearly stated in the Omnibus Election Code that Marcos was qualified to run for the presidency in next year’s election because he has no shortcomings in his CoC submission.

“What happened when I read the case -- it does not apply to presidentiable BBM. He was not sentenced to imprisonment. He is guilty to pay a fine,” Agra said.

The Ateneo law professor clarified that he was not a Marcos’ lawyer or supporter, but based on his analysis of the petition, it appeared that the case was not tax evasion but simply a failure to file his ITR.

Agra said the law stated that to cancel the CoC of any candidate, he or she must be found guilty and punished with more than 18 months of imprisonment or 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.