Join the campaign (Learn More)

One News : Marcos Not Taking Disqualification Cases Lightly

News & Interviews
7 January 2022

By Edu Punay | One News

“I am not disregarding those (disqualification) cases. We are focused on them so we don’t get unfavorable results,” presidential aspirant and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said.

Presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Wednesday, Jan. 5, he is not taking the disqualification cases filed against him before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) lightly.

Despite his camp repeatedly saying that the petitions seeking to cancel his certificate of candidacy and disqualify him from the presidential race are nuisance suits, Marcos said he is taking them seriously.

“I am not disregarding those cases. We are focused on them so we don’t get unfavorable results,” he said in Filipino in an interview with SMNI News channel as he admitted having expected the filing of suits. “Attacks are really on who is leading the race. Even if they’ve been attacking us for almost 40 years, we know that the people are with us and that’s where we are getting our strength from.”

According to him, “Filipinos support our cause for unity not because I am a Marcos but because that’s the nature of Filipinos.”

The Comelec’s first division is set to hold a preliminary conference today on the disqualification petition filed by Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party, one of the six suits.

Last month, his lawyers, led by former solicitor general Estelito Mendoza, insisted that Marcos is eligible to run for president in the May 2022 elections and asked the poll body to deny the petition filed by human rights groups, led by Fr. Christian Buenafe of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines.

The lawyers claimed that Marcos was never convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, and argued that the Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that the failure to pay tax returns is not an offense that involves moral turpitude.

They added that Marcos’ conviction by a Quezon City trial court in 1995 for his failure to file income tax returns cannot be considered as involving moral turpitude, which is a ground for disqualification of candidates in elections.

They also presented a Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) certification, issued on Dec. 9, 2021, that indicated among others the full payment of taxes and fines in his tax case, amounting to P67,137.27 – the exact amount stipulated in the 1997 Court of Appeals decision.

The document, signed by Arsenio Tomeldan of the Collection Section of BIR Region No.7B-East NCR of Revenue District Office No.42-San Juan, specifically indicated that Marcos paid the amount that covers the computation of deficiency income taxes and fines covering the taxable years for 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985 at the Land Bank of the Philippines.

On technical grounds, Marcos’ lawyers argued that Comelec has no jurisdiction to rule upon his qualifications, pointing out that the Constitution only allows the SC to decide the qualifications of presidential aspirants.

They cited Article 7, Section 4 of the Constitution which states: “The Supreme Court, sitting en banc, shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the President and Vice President and may promulgate its rules for the purpose.”

‘Certified convict’

But former SC associate justice Antonio Carpio maintained on Thursday that Marcos, namesake of the late dictator, is not eligible to run for president, branding him as a “certified convict” who has not served his sentence.

“Up to this day, (Marcos) has not served his sentence under the CA (Court of Appeals) decision, which has become final on Aug. 8, 2001. (He) remains a convict up to this day because he has not served his sentence,” said Carpio, a convenor of the opposition coalition 1Sambayan, during an online forum.

He stressed that Marcos, “at present, is a certified convict who is disqualified to run for President of the Philippines, to vote and to participate in any election in our country.”

Carpio pointed out that Marcos was already perpetually disqualified from holding any public office when his conviction became final after withdrawing his appeal before the SC.

“When (Marcos) ran in 2007 and won as congressman, he was actually disqualified from running and from being a congressman. When (he) ran and won as senator in 2010, he was actually disqualified from running and from being a senator,” he said.

Noting that the former senator’s camp presented in a press conference the supposed receipts from the BIR, there was allegedly no formal offer of evidence to establish that he already paid his deficiency.

In contrast, the petitioners were able to submit to the poll body certifications stating that there is no record of compliance of the court decisions.

“These official certifications are binding on the Comelec. These certifications establish that (he) did not pay the fines and surcharges that were payable to the trial court by virtue of the final (Court of Appeals) decision,” Carpio said.

“The fines are payable to the trial court, which is Branch 108 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, and not to the Bureau of Internal Revenue. What is payable to the BIR is the deficiency income tax,” he added.

Because he failed to pay the fine, Carpio said Marcos’ disqualification from holding public office based on the provisions of the Omnibus Election Code is still not lifted.

He earlier argued that the former senator was convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.

Aside from this, the former magistrate also cited the Tax Code, which imposes a penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding public office on those who will be convicted of its provisions.

He said it remains in effect and can only be lifted by a presidential pardon, which has not been given to Marcos.

Carpio is not among those who filed the petition against the former senator, although his fellow 1Sambayan convenor – lawyer Howard Calleja – is a counsel in his personal capacity for one group of petitioners.

Coalition 1Sambayan has endorsed the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo. – With Janvic Mateo