Partido Federal: Disqualification penalty doesn't apply to Marcos' unfiled ITRs

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Partido Federal: Disqualification penalty doesn't apply to Marcos' unfiled ITRs
This photo release on October 5 shows presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos taking his oath to join Partido Federal ng Pilipinas as administered by party president South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo, Jr.
Partido Federal ng Pilipinas Facebook release

MANILA, Philippines — Officers of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) have sought to intervene in the petitions to block the bid of their presidential bet Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Three officials of PFP sought to become intervenors in the case and filed an Answer-in-Intervention to defend Marcos in the petition filed seeking the cancellation of his Certificate of Candidacy, which they called "utterly baseless and misleading."

PFP, through their lawyer George Briones, has asked the Commission on Elections to dismiss the petition due to lack of merit.

Marcos is facing at least two petitions to cancel his COC—although the Comelec has yet to resolve a more recent plea seeking to intervene in the first petition—that cited his conviction on failure to file Income Tax Returns for four years. Petitioners said Marcos made a false representation on his COC since his conviction carried a penalty of perpetual disqualification from office.

In their pleading, PFP said: "Simply put, there is no false material representation contained in [Marcos’] COC, much less, a deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform or hide a fact, which would otherwise render a candidate ineligible."

Ex post facto law

PFP said that the section cited by the petitioners was not in the original 1977 National Internal Revenue Code, but was introduced merely by Presidential Decree 1994 which took effect on Jan. 1, 1986.

They pointed out that in the said case, Marcos was convicted on his failure to file tax returns for the years 1982 to 1985. For the said charge, the consummation of the offense for failure to file ITR would be April 16 of the next year.

For the ITR on the tax year 1982, the date for the commission of the offense would be on April 16, 1983.

But they said that the Constitution prohibits ex post facto law that would penalize a crime that was committed when the act was not deemed illegal yet.

"It is clear that for the taxable years of 1982 to 1984, [Marcos] failed to file his tax returns before the effectivity of PD 1994. Therefore, the penalty of perpetual disqualification which was introduced by PD 1994 cannot be applied to [Marcos’]  failure to file his tax returns for taxable years 1982 to 1984," they told the Comelec.

For the year of failure to file ITR for the tax year 1985 — alleged commission of offense would fall on April 1986, when PD 1994 was already in effect — the intervenors said Marcos was already in exile at that time.

They noted that Section 252 of the NIRC cannot be applied to Marcos’ failure to file ITR on the tax year 1985 because the penalty of perpetual disqualification from office will only be imposed if the offender is a public officer and employee.

"Therefore, in February 1986, [Marcos] was officially removed as the Governor of Ilocos Norte. Stated otherwise, [Marcos] was no longer a public officer or employee [on] April 16, 1986… And since [Marcos] was not a public officer or employee at that time, the penalty of perpetual disqualification is not applicable to [Marcos]," they added.

Not a crime of moral turpitude

They also cited the defense of Marcos’ counsel, Estelito Mendoza, that the conviction of failure to file tax returns is not one involving moral turpitude.

Marcos has earlier filed a five-page answer to the petitions where he argued that the petition is "bereft of any specific allegation of a material representation required under Section 74 of the Omnibus Election Code." A copy of Marcos’ answer has yet to be made public.

PFP, in their pleading, said that the failure to file tax returns is “not intrinsically immoral” and a "crime by omission." Marcos was also "not motivated my criminal intent or ill will as Marcos’ taxes were paid," they said.

"On December 27, 2001, [Marcos] paid the fines and penalties pursuant to the CA Decision," they added.

Cases vs Marcos

The Comelec Second Division on November 26 held a preliminary conference on the first petition filed against Marcos’ COC. Also pending before the same division is the petition-in-intervention filed by ten professionals, through lawyer Howard Calleja.

Comelec has yet to announce whether the Calleja-led petition-in-intervention has already been resolved.

Marcos is facing a separate petition for disqualification, again prepared by Calleja, from martial law victims that was raffled off to Comelec’s First Division.

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