Election Comelec junks case vs Marcos

Election Comelec junks case vs Marcos

Election

Bongbong Marcos. PHOTO BY ENRIQUE AGCAOILI

Updated at 12:38 am

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has dismissed the petition seeking the cancellation of presidential bet Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s certificate of candidacy (CoC).

In a 32-page ruling signed by Presiding Commissioner Socorro Inting and concurred in by Commissioners Antonio Kho and Rey Bulay, the Comelec’s Second Division ruled that there was no misrepresentation committed by the former senator in his CoC.

“Unmistakably, there is no intention on the part of respondent to deceive the electorate as to his qualifications for public office,” the decision read.

The petition was filed by Fr. Christian Buenafe, Fides Lim, Ma. Edeliza Hernandez, Celia Lagman Sevilla, Roland Vibal and Josephine Lascano.

They claimed that Marcos’ CoC contained several false representations.

The petitioners argued that Marcos cannot run for public office because he was convicted by a Quezon City court for failing to file income tax returns from 1982 to 1985.

But the poll body rejected the argument, saying Marcos has not been perpetually disqualified from seeking elective office and did not commit any misrepresentation in the filing of his CoC.

The Court of Appeals decision of Oct. 21, 1997 “did not categorically hold that [Marcos] is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude nor did it positively pronounce that [he is] meted the penalty of imprisonment of more than 18 months. There is likewise no definitive declaration by the said decision that herein respondent is perpetually disqualified from holding public office,” the Comelec panel said.

“Failure to file income tax returns is not tax evasion,” it said.

It added that tax evasion “involves a scheme used outside lawful means.”

The Comelec said the Court of Appeals found that Marcos, “being an elected public official for taxable years concerned, was already subjected to the withholding tax system, hence, his tax liabilities were already paid as they were withheld by the government.”

Another batch of disqualification cases involving Marcos is pending before the Comelec’s First Division.

Marcos’ chief of staff, Victor Rodriguez, thanked the Comelec “for upholding the law and the right of every bona fide candidate like [Marcos] to run for public office free from any form of harassment and discrimination.”

“The petitioners’ mere creativity for writing and wanting what is not written in the law as basis to cancel the certificate of candidacy of [Marcos] is way too frivolous and unmeritorious to override the basic precepts of the Constitution,” Rodriquez said.

Theodore Te, counsel for the petitioners, said they will appeal the decision.

Respect ruling

Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, who is the presidential candidate of the Partido Reporma party, said, “It is best that we respect the ruling.”

Lacson said the Comelec “has the mandate to decide on any case that falls under its jurisdiction and the petition to disqualify ex-senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is one such case.”

“That said, there are venues provided by our electoral system to ensure fairness for all concerned and we should respect them as well,” he said in a statement.

Another presidential bet, Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, said she was unaffected by the Comelec decision.

Robredo said in a media interview before the ruling was announced that her candidacy does not hinge on what is happening to the other candidates.

In a statement on Monday, Cabinet Secretary and acting spokesman Karlo Alexei Nograles said Malacañang recognizes the Comelec’s autonomy as a constitutional body.

“[The] Comelec is an independent constitutional body. We respect the independence of the Comelec,” Nograles said.

President Rodrigo Duterte has not been supportive of Marcos’ candidacy despite the fact that Marcos’ running mate, Sara Duterte-Carpio, is his daughter.

WITH BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO, REINA C. TOLENTINO AND KRISTINA MARALIT

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