Martial law victims, survivors file plea to disqualify Bongbong Marcos

Reuters

Posted at Nov 17 2021 02:53 PM | Updated as of Nov 18 2021 08:05 AM

Ferdinand
Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. gives a speech announcing his intention to run for the presidency in the 2022 national elections on October 5, 2021. Handout, Office of Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr/File

MANILA - A group opposing the candidacy of the son of late Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos for next year's presidential race asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday to bar him from running because he has been convicted for tax evasion.

Called the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law, the group filed a petition for the disqualification of Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr after he emerged as the frontrunner for the May election.

Former congressman Satur Ocampo, one of the group's convenors, said the petition, like one filed by another group, is grounded on Marcos's over two-decade old conviction for tax evasion.

"Public officials who violate the internal revenue code are perpetually disqualified from holding any public office and participating in election," Ocampo, who fought the Marcos dictatorship, told Reuters, citing an article of the code.

The late dictator ruled the Philippines for almost two decades until his 1986 overthrow in the "people power" revolution. He died in exile in 1989.

His wife and children have repeatedly denied allegations that billions of dollars of state wealth were plundered while Marcos was in power, estimated in 1987 to be worth $10 billion.

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A trial court convicted Marcos Jr of tax evasion in 1995 for failing to file his income tax returns from 1982 to 1985. The conviction was upheld by an appeals court in 1997.

However, Marcos Jr has been elected governor, congressman, and in 2010, as a senator.

Although he ran for public office previously in the past, despite the conviction, Ocampo said "this does not mean it can't be raised anymore."

The poll body has scheduled a preliminary conference for Nov. 26 on the earlier disqualification complaint filed by a group representing political detainees, human rights and medical organizations against Marcos.

Marcos, 64, has said the petition "is without merit and has no legal basis".

He announced on Tuesday that the daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed to be his vice presidential running mate, confirming weeks of speculation of an alliance between two powerful families. 

Marcos camp reacts

The late dictator's camp said he remains unfazed by the petitions asking the Comelec to bar him from seeking the highest office in the land.

Aside from the group of martial law survivors, civic groups also sought the cancellation or denial of his certificate of candidacy over his supposed "false material representation.”

Ten professionals also filed a petition to intervene in the civic group's petition. Their lawyer said they did so because they are taxpayers seeking equal treatment under the law.

In a statement sent to media, Marcos Jr.'s spokesperson Atty. Vic Rodriguez said the petitions against the former senator's candidacy are part of political propaganda.

Rodriguez also noted that petitioners cannot add to or expand the ruling of the Quezon City RTC and Court of Appeals over Marcos’ tax case.

He also said that those against Marcos Jr.'s candidacy appear to be "confused," noting that they are pursuing different courses of action to stop his presidential run.

"The petitioners themselves are confused on what remedy exactly they're trying to get from or asking from the Comelec because petition for disqualification iba ang ground niyan. Iba rin ang ground sa cancellation of the certificate of candidacy, so ano ba talaga siya?"

"Kandidato ba siya or dapat kanselahin yung kanyang certificate of candidacy?" Rodriguez said.

The Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) has endorsed and adopted the candidacy of Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte-Carpio as Marcos Jr.'s running-mate.

KBL endorsed Marcos Jr. as its presidential candidate for election 2022 last September 24, 2021, but did not endorse any vice presidential candidate at that time.

Marcos filed his certificate of candidacy as the presidential bet of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas. KBL is the party founded by his late father. 

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--with reports from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News