Civic groups ask Comelec to cancel COC of presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Civic groups ask Comelec to cancel COC of presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos
This photo release shows former Sen.Bongbong Marcos announcing he will run for president of the Philippines.
BBM staff / Released

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 9:45 p.m.) — A group of political detainees, human rights and medical organizations on Tuesday asked the Commission on Elections to cancel former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s Certificate of Candidacy for the 2022 presidential elections.

Six petitioners from civic groups on Tuesday filed a 50-paged Petition to Cancel or Deny Due Course the COC of Marcos before the Comelec, as they accused him of filing the certificate that “contains multiple false material representations.”

“Specifically, Marcos falsified his [COC] when he claimed that he was eligible to be a candidate for President of the Philippines in the 2022 national elections when in fact he is disqualified from doing so,” the petitioners said in a statement.

The petitioners are from Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, Kapatid-Families and Friends of Political Prisoners, Medical Action Group Inc., Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates and Balay Rehabilitation Center.

Marcos filed his COC for presidency on October 10, marking his family’s bid to return to the Malacañang 35 years since the historic ouster of his dictator father.

Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code states that a CoC may be cancelled or denied due course “on the ground that any material representation contained therein as required under Section 74 hereof is false.”

They told the Comelec: “In the instant case, not only has respondent Marcos Jr. been convicted of a crime by final judgment which carries the penalty of disqualification, his repeated violations of the [National Internal Revenue Code] and his continued evasion/non-payment of taxes renders his conviction as one involving moral turpitude.”

Failure to file income tax returns conviction

Arguing for Marcos’ disqualification, the petitioners cited Marcos’ 1995 conviction from a Quezon City Regional Trial Court on multiple failures to file income tax returns.

They said the QC RTC Branch 105 found Marcos guilty beyond reasonable doubt for violating Sections 45 and 50 of the NIRC and sentenced him to imprisonment of nine years and pay the find for his failure to file his income tax returns and/or pay taxes for the years 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985.

Marcos elevated the conviction to the Court of Appeals which upheld the lower court’s finding but modified the decision to only impose a fine against him.

“Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Court of Appeals ordered respondent Marcos Jr. to pay the [Bureau of Internal Revenue] the deficiency income taxes due with interest at the legal rate until fully paid,” the petition read.

Marcos withdrew the appeal to contest his conviction. But the petitioners stressed: “In this regard, while it is improper for the Court of Appeals to disregard the penalty of imprisonment in the conviction of respondent Marcos Jr., the absence of any appeal therefrom only affirms the incontestable fact that respondent Marcos Jr. is a convicted criminal,” they added.

The petitioners pointed out that Marcos declared under oath that he has never been found liable for any offense, which carries the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification to hold public office. This was when he ticked the NO box on the COC he filed.

They pointed out that following Presidential Decree No. 1994, the NIRC has been amended to state that in cases of conviction of a crime penalized under the said law, the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding any public office, to vote and to participate in any election is included.

They asserted that the penalty of disqualification is an inevitable consequence of conviction, and is not dependent on the penalty actually imposed.

“Clearly, the inescapable fact is that the mere fact of conviction for violations of the provisions of the NIRC perpetually disqualifies respondent Marcos Jr. from participating in any election, more so to run for any public office,” the petition read.

Crime involving moral turpitude

They also argued that Marcos is not eligible to hold any position of public office due to his convicting of a crime involving moral turpitude.

Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code provides that a person sentenced by final judgment for a crime involving moral turpitude shall be disqualified to be candidate and to hold any office, unless granted pardon or amnesty.

The petitioners cited the 1967 case of In Re: Atty. Isidro Vinzon where the Supreme Court held that “moral turpitude” involves acts done contrary to justice, honesty or good morals.

They also noted that Marcos’ “repeated failure” to file his income tax returns from 1982-1985 “cannot be characterized as a mere ‘omission,’ but already constitutes willfulness and fraudulent intent on the part of respondent Marcos Jr. This plainly shows respondent Marcos Jr.’s moral turpitude.”

“Having been convicted by final judgment of a violation of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC), Marcos is perpetually disqualified from holding any public office, to vote and to participate in any election as mandated under the NIRC,” they added.

The petitioners also said they are unaware of any record showing Marcos Jr., as heir of his late dictator father, having paid estate taxes. Citing an opinion column of retired SC Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, they said that the estate tax liability of the Marcoses would already amount to P203.8 billion.

“Considering the propensity of respondent Marcos Jr. to evade his positive duties as a taxpayer, and the totality of the circumstances of his prior conviction for the violation of the NIRC is one with moral turpitude,” they added. 

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