MANILA — Presidential aspirant Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. should be afforded due process in his estate tax case, senatorial hopeful JV Ejercito said on Monday.
Ejercito said the tax liability that has reportedly ballooned to P203 billion had “to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.”
"I think we have to be a government of laws. If we find sufficient evidence, he has to pay... It’s political season kasi, I don't really like to ride on issues until there's really enough evidence to really prove that," he told ANC's Headstart.
He said government "has to really improve its legal team because through the years, they've been losing their cases to the Marcoses."
"In fairness to BBM (Marcos), I think he needs to be given due process also just like any other citizens," Ejercito continued.
Marcos' camp over the weekend claimed the tax debt was still pending in court.
Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, however, said the high court ruling in 1997, which affirmed a Court of Appeals decision on the Marcos estate tax of P23 billion, was already final and executory.
Ejercito, who served in the Senate from to 2013 to 2019, said Marcos has asked him to join his party's campaign rallies.
Ejercito added he was the "first one" to be endorsed by President Rodrigo Duterte "last month."
He said Duterte was also entitled to due process for alleged deaths in his campaign against drugs.
The International Criminal Court in September last year authorized a full inquiry into alleged crimes against humanity in the anti-narcotics drive. It suspended the inquiry in November 2021 due to the Philippine government's deferment request.
"If there’s enough evidence, we have to go through the process, he (Duterte) has to be given due process, he has to be able to defend himself," Ejercito said.
"I think the President being a lawyer I think he can defend himself just in case the ICC will conduct its probe. As I said, I will always stick to us being a government of laws not of men."
Aside from Marcos and Duterte, Ejercito said he was endorsed by Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso. Ejercito has also been joining the tandem of Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III as he's a member of the National People's Coalition.
Ejercito said he wanted to return to the Senate to oversee the implementation of the Universal Healthcare Law that he sponsored.
He said he would also push for a "core masterplan" for infrastructure and development "so that whoever sits as President, we already have a blueprint the country will follow."
Ejercito added that he would like to amend or repeal the Rice Tariffication Law as he is "not in favor fo too much importation."
"I'm also the author of anti-smuggling law... Since 2015, wala pang nahuhuli na big-time smuggler under this law (no big-time smuggler has been caught under this law). It's really killing our agricultural sector. I believe this has to be reviewed," he said.