MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) still cannot say when the three consolidated petitions against presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong" Marcos Jr. will be resolved.
The consolidated petitions filed by Bonifacio Ilagan, Akbayan Citizen’s Action Party, and former PFP chairman Abubakar Mangelen were supposed to be resolved on or before Jan. 17, based on pronouncements by Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon.
The poll body later announced the resolution has been postponed to the contraction of COVID-19 by a staff of the commissioner-in-charge of the case.
“No updates on that yet; we’re waiting also,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said on Tuesday.
Marcos is included in the official ballot, which began printing on Jan. 20, since these cases and 4 others have not been ruled with finality.
BACKGROUND OF CASES:
The Ilagan petition was filed by martial law survivors, including former Makabayan bloc lawmakers Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza.
Petitioners argue Marcos Jr. is “perpetually disqualified from holding any public office” on the basis of his 1995 tax case conviction by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) for non-payment of income taxes and non-filing of income tax returns (ITRs) from 1982-1985.
Marcos Jr. was sentenced to imprisonment and payment of a fine.
On appeal, in 1997, the decision of the lower court was modified by the Court of Appeals, which acquitted Marcos Jr. of non-payment of taxes even as the non-filing of ITR ruling was upheld.
The prison sentence was removed by the CA.
Regardless of the CA decision, petitioners insist Marcos Jr., by virtue of section 253(c) of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC), is perpetually disqualified from public office.
“Section 253(c) of the [NIRC] specifically provides that if a person convicted of a crime penalized by the NIRC is a public officer or employee, the ‘maximum penalty for the offense shall be imposed an, in addition, he shall be dismissed from the public service and perpetually disqualified from holding any public office, to vote and to participate in any election,’” the petition stated.
It further pointed out, it will be “difficult, if not impossible” for human rights victims during martial law to claim reparations, and for government to recover “the bulk of the ill-gotten wealth plundered by the Marcoses and their cronies” if Marcos is allowed to run and if he won the presidency.
And even if Marcos Jr. was allowed to run for provincial seats, senator, and vice-president in the past, petitioners argue his conviction has not been rendered moot since perpetual disqualification is “not time-bound.”
The Akbayan petition, described by Guanzon in a Twitter post on Tuesday as “better than the others,” is also anchored on Marcos’ tax case conviction.
It raised a similar argument on Marcos Jr.’s perpetual disqualification from public office, explaining that though his non-payment and non-filing of ITRs was up to 1985 only or a year before the perpetual disqualification accessory penalty took effect under PD 1994, filing of ITRs and payment of taxes for 1985 was due on April 15, 1986.
PD 1994, incidentally signed into law by Marcos’ father, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos Sr., took effect in Jan. 1986.
Petitioners insist that from Jan. 1, 1986 up to at least April 16, 1986, Marcos was “committing” the crime of non-filing of tax returns while he was sitting Ilocos Norte governor.
Under the amended Tax Code, the perpetual disqualification penalty only rises in cases when the offender is a public official or employee.
Petitioners stress, at the time the tax conviction was made final by the Supreme Court on Aug. 31, 2001, Marcos was again incumbent Ilocos Norte governor, and again, his conviction carried with it the accessory penalty.
“To allow the Comelec to wait for a person to file a petition to cancel the certificate of candidacy of one suffering from perpetual disqualification will result in the anomaly that these cases so grotesquely exemplify,” the petition stated.
The petition also asserted Marcos Jr. was convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude since “taxes are the lifeblood of the nation.”
National Commission on Muslim Filipinos Commissioner Abubakar Mangelen continues to claim to this day that he is the duly authorized head of PFP, though PFP officers insist he was ousted from the party in September.
In his petition, Mangelen questioned the issuance of Certificate Of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA) to Marcos, as he insisted “records would show [Marcos] was never an officer or member of PFP.”
Mangelen alleges Marcos Jr.’s CONA is “inoperative, void and non-existent.”
The petition explained the issuance of CONA did not go through the proper process, in violation of the party’s constitution and by-laws.
The petition also cited Marcos Jr.’s tax case conviction in its disqualification plea.
Aside from these three cases with the 1st Division, there are pending cases against Marcos with the 2nd Division involving a petition for cancellation of certificate of candidacy (COC) filed by civic leaders, led by Fr. Christian Buenafe, et al.; and another disqualification case, filed by Pudno nga Ilokano.
If these cases do not attain finality in time for the printing of official ballots next week, Marcos Jr. will still be included in the ballot.
Likewise, he may still be proclaimed winner, if he obtained the highest number of votes, if there is no final judgment upon completion of canvass of votes.