Comelec junks last disqualification, cancellation cases against Marcos

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MANILA — The Commission on Elections en banc on Tuesday confirmed the dismissal of four cases against the presidential candidacy of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Marcos had three disqualification suits filed separately by Martial Law survivors led by Bonifacio Ilagan, the Akbayan Citizen’s Action Party, and Abubakar Mangelen, the supposed legitimate chair of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, the party fielding Marcos.

Filed by the group of Fr. Christian Buenafe, he also faced a petition to cancel his certificate of candidacy.

Due to lack of merit, the Comelec denied the latter and denied the motion for reconsideration on the assailed resolution that also denied the petition for lack of merit. 

“A careful review of the Motions for Reconsideration reveals that they failed to raise new matters that would warrant the reversal of the Assailed Resolution,” the decision reads, adding that the motions “merely contain rehash of the Petitioners’ assertions and arguments.” 

According to the Comelec Rules of Procedure, a motion for reconsideration “may be filed on the grounds that the evidence is insufficient to justify the decision.”

“I painstakingly scoured [their] motion for reconsideration and it does not contain any paragraph nor even just a sentence which is meant to address [the] pronouncements by the assailed resolution,” Comelec commissioner Socorro Inting also wrote in a separate concurring opinion. 

The petitions rested on QC RTC Branch 105 ruling that found Marcos guilty of violating Sections 45 and 50 of the National Internal Revenue Code.  For failing to file ITRs and pay taxes for the years 1982, 1983, 1984, and 1985, he was sentenced to a total of at least nine years in imprisonment and a fine.

Based on a separate certification from the trial court, the presidential frontrunner “has not satisfied” the judgment. 

On the claim that Marcos should be perpetually disqualified under Presidential Decree No. 1994 — which took effect January 1st on 1986 — the commission ruled that the accessory penalty cannot be applied to tax violations cannot be committed before the effectivity of the law. 

They mentioned that Marcos has never been convicted by final judgment of a crime involving moral turpitude and sentenced to imprisonment for over three years. They pointed to Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code which provides that a person is disqualified to run for public office if they are “sentenced to a penalty of more than eighteen months or for a crime involving moral turpitude.”

As for the allegation that Marcos committed moral turpitude by failing to file his income tax returns as a public official, commissioners cited the case of Republic of the Philippines vs. Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, in which the High Court determined that failure to file tax return is not a crime entailing moral turpitude. 

“[Marcos] was no longer a government official before the last day to file the 1985 tax returns [since] the government was overthrown because of the EDSA revolution [and he] was removed from the government,” the decision also reads, echoing Marcos’ defense. “Simply put, Marcos ceased to be a public officer when he and his family were forced to leave the country in February 1986.”

Comelec commissioner Marlon Casquejo, in a separate concurring opinion, agreed with the decision but noted that the Comelec “does not hold a general or comprehensive power of review over the decision of the courts” and thus cannot determine whether a judgment of a court of law on a tax-related case is void. 

“We cannot override a ruling in a tax evasion case by an appellate court; we are not even allowed to pry into why a supposed mandatory accessory penalty is written or not written into such decisions,” he wrote. 

Casquejo stated that this aspect of the case “has not been sufficiently addressed” and “should have been given due regard so as to quell all legal enquiries that may have arisen because of it.”

But he claimed that the declaration was “a mere theory propounded by the petitioners,” adding that “any action to challenge it must be done through the correct remedy and filed before the appropriate tribunal.”

The decisions by the Comelec First and Second Divisions were approved by Chairman Saidamen Pangarungan and concurred by Commissioners Marlon Casquejo, Inting, Aimee Ferolino, and Rey Bulay. Commissioner George Garcia voluntarily inhibited from the case as Marcos was his former client.

House committees to hold hearings during break

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Spread the loveMANILA – The House of Representatives has authorized for its committees to conduct hearings during the five-week congressional break, extending until late April.