Petition vs Bongbong's presidential bid 'outrageous': Marcos camp

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 03 2021 06:17 PM | Updated as of Nov 04 2021 12:14 AM

Former senator Bongbong Marcos  Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File
Former senator Bongbong Marcos speaks with the members of the press after filing his certificate of candidacy (COC) for the 2022 presidential elections at the Harbor Garden tent of the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City on October 6, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA (UPDATE)— The camp of presidential aspirant Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Wednesday blasted the bid of several groups to block his presidential run over a 2-decade-old conviction for tax evasion. 

In a 57-page petition filed with the Commission on Elections, civic groups representing political detainees, human rights and medical organizations argued that Marcos is not eligible to run for any public office as he is a "convicted criminal."

A trial court convicted the only son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. of tax evasion in 1995 for failing to file his income tax returns from 1982 to 1985. The conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeals in 1997.

Marcos Jr.'s spokesperson Vic Rodriguez called the petition "outrageous," saying "there is really no case" against the former senator.

"We have to wait for an official copy from the Comelec, we have to wait for the official notification, but as I have said in my earlier statement, that I am sorry to disappoint the yellow wannabe political assassins. We are not going to engage them in gutter politics," he said.

Rodriguez called the petition an "old yellow narrative containing the old yellow political attacks," saying only one page of it concentrated on the basis of the bid to cancel Marcos' presidential bid.

"Now, if that is not gutter politics, hindi ko na alam kung ano pa itatawag natin diyan (I don't know what that is)," he said.

Opposition figures are usually called "yellows" by those siding with the Duterte and Marcos administrations due to the trademark yellow color used by the Corazon and Benigno Aquino administrations. The late President Corazon Aquino assumed power in 1986 after Marcos Sr. and his family were deposed and went into exile in Hawaii following the collapse of his strongman rule.

Amid his commentary, Rodriguez admitted he hasn't read the petition.

"I have to be honest with you, I haven’t read it and I didn't care to read it because I have yet to get a copy of the official notification from the government just to be safe. We want the official copy," he said.

Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim, one of the petitioners, rejected Rodriguez's allegation politics was behind the bid to cancel Marcos Jr.'s candidacy.

"What we have in essence is the practice of selective justice. It’s the practice of double standard, why the son of a late president, his namesake, is being allowed to run although he has been convicted of violating laws, particularly the national internal revenue code," Lim said.

"Bakit? Dilaw ba kami? O kahit sabihin nila pula kami? Bakit? May kulay na ba ang katotohanan? Sila nga ang dapat sumagot niyan eh," she said.

(Why? Are we yellow? Or even if they say we're red, what? Does truth have color? They should be the ones to answer that.)

Election expert Albert Agra meanwhile said Marcos should be given a chance to respond to the petition, and that his alleged lie about his presidential bid should be proven.

"Kailangan siya ay tinatawag nating deliberate. Kailangang magkaroon ng hearing na talagang sinadya ng kandidato na magsinungaling sa isang materyal na bagay," he said.

(That should be what we call deliberate. There should be a hearing to tackle if the candidate really lied.)

Marcos Jr. earlier Wednesday said he was unafraid and would not withdraw from the 2022 elections.

"Hindi ako natatakot, hindi ako aatras, hindi ako magwi-withdraw. Patuloy lahat ang aking gagawin," he said in an interview with RMN Palawan. 

(I am not afraid, I will not back down, I will not withdraw. All that I will do would continue.)

Marcos Jr.'s conviction, according to the petitioners, perpetually disqualifies him from running for any public office.

Under section 252 of the 1977 National Internal Revenue Code (old Tax Code), if the offender who committed a crime is a public officer, he/she shall be “perpetually disqualified from holding any public office,” from voting, or from participating in any elections. 

At the time his conviction became final in 2001 when he withdrew his appeal to the Supreme Court, he was governor of Ilocos Norte, a post he held from June 1998 to June 2007.

Marcos Jr. was the third aspirant to sign up last month for the May 2022 presidential polls, promising he would be a "unifying" leader to help the Philippines tackle the pandemic and economic crises. 

His COC filing was met with protests by human rights groups, denouncing his alleged attempt to return his family to power by vying for the presidency.

His father's dictatorial regime was marked by violence, human rights violations, repression of free speech and the plunder of state coffers, among others. The Philippine government has yet to fully recover the Marcos family's ill-gotten wealth. 

—With reports from Jacque Manabat and Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

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