MANILA (UPDATE) — A petition to cancel the candidacy of presumptive president Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has reached the Supreme Court, with civic leaders asking the high court to stop Congress from canvassing the votes for Marcos and from proclaiming him president.
Petitioners Fr. Christian Buenafe, Fides Lim, Ma. Edeliza Hernandez, Celia Lagman Sevilla, Roland Vibal, and Josephine Lascano have asked the SC to "cancel and declare ab initio" Marcos' certificate of candidacy, citing material misrepresentation.
"Consequently, respondent Marcos Jr. must be deemed to have never been a candidate from the very beginning, his candidacy invalidated, and the votes attributed to him considered stray," the petition read.
The petitioners also sought from the high court a temporary restraining order enjoining and restraining both chambers of Congress from canvassing the votes cast for Marcos for president, which is set on May 23.
"Should the petition be given due course by this Court, petitioners also ask that the qualified candidate for the position obtaining the highest number of votes cast (sans Marcos Jr.) be proclaimed as the President," the petition read.
Based on the partial, unofficial results count as of May 13, Marcos posted an unassailable lead, garnering 31.1 million votes.
His rival, Vice President Leni Robredo, is trailing with 14.8 million votes.
'GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION'
According to the petitioners, the Commission on Elections "acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction" by refusing to cancel or deny due course Marcos' COC.
"Comelec failed to carry out its mandate to enforce and administer the laws relating to the conduct of elections when it refused, despite basis, to exercise its duty to cancel respondent Marcos Jr.’s COC in view of the latter’s material misrepresentation on two items," they said.
Civic leaders insisted that Marcos' material representations that he is "eligible" and not convicted of crime with perpetual disqualification as punishment are false.
Marcos was convicted for failure to file mandatory income tax returns from 1982 to 1985.
The petitioners argued that the 1977 National Internal Revenue Code, the applicable law at the time of Marcos’ non-filing of income tax returns, is clear — the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding any public office shall be imposed in cases of conviction of any crime penalized under the NIRC.
They cited 2012 and 2013 rulings by the Supreme Court stating that “the accessory penalty of perpetual special disqualification takes effect immediately once the judgment of conviction becomes final.”
Marcos appealed his 1995 tax convictions to the CA. Two years later, the latter modified the RTC ruling, acquitting him of non-payment of taxes and removing the penalty of imprisonment, even as it convicted him for non-filing of ITRs.
Marcos filed a motion for extension of time to file his appeal with the Supreme Court but later withdrew it. His conviction became final in 2001.
ESTATE TAX RETURN
The petitioners also said Marcos' "propensity to flout Philippine laws is further exemplified" over his refusal to pay the estate taxes for the estate of his father, former dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
Marcos is one of the court-appointed administrators for this estate.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue computed the estate tax due on the Marcos estate at P23 billion. It has ballooned to P203.8 billion, inclusive of interest, surcharges and penalties.
Marcos filed a petition with the CA questioning the validity of the estate tax assessment. The CA dismissed the petition as the estate tax assessment had already become final and unappealable. This was affirmed by the SC on June 5, 1997.
"The failure of the Marcos family to pay the estate taxes is to the detriment of the Filipino people, as it represents once again a “Ferdinand Marcos," but this time his Junior, depriving the country and its people of money properly belonging to them–to the tune of approximately
P 203.8 billion," the petitioners said.
'NO INTENTION TO DECEIVE'
In January, the poll body's Second Division dismissed the petition of civic leaders that sought to cancel Marcos' candidacy, saying they found no intention on his part "to deceive the electorate."
The ruling, written by Comelec Commissioner Socorro Inting, said Marcos "did not deliberately attempt to mislead, misinform, or deceive the electorate" when he declared in his COC that he is eligible for public office.
Inting added that the CA's eventual ruling on Marcos' tax case did not categorically convict Marcos of a crime involving moral turpitude.
The second division also said that the petition should have been summarily dismissed because it invoked grounds on both disqualification and cancellation of COC. However, they relaxed the rules and decided based on the merits of the case.
But in its petition to the high court, the civic leaders have sought for the invalidation and reversal of the Comelec resolutions "for having been rendered in grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction."
— With a report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News