MANILA — Presidential contender Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. urged the Commission on Elections anew on Monday to dismiss the first certificate of cancelation petition filed against him in relation to the 2022 elections.
In a 54-page memorandum containing his final arguments, Marcos Jr. alleged the petition filed by Fr. Christian Buenafe, et al. has no merit.
The case stems from Marcos Jr.’s tax case conviction in 1995, which petitioners said should prevent him from running for president, even if the Court of Appeals in 1997 reduced the penalty to a mere fine.
Marcos Jr. argued about Comelec’s alleged “lack of jurisdiction” in ruling upon his qualifications.
“The Constitution lodged the jurisdiction to decide on the qualifications of presidential solely and exclusively on the Supreme Court (SC),” his memorandum stated, citing Section 4, Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution.
Said provision states, “the [SC] shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of the president or vice-president, and may promulgate its rules for the purpose.”
Marcos said the poll body may resolve the petition on its merits only if “there is a prior authoritative finding” that [Marcos] does not possess any of the constitutional qualifications.
“From the submission of petitioners, it is clear that there is simply no prior authoritative finding that [Marcos] is not qualified under the constitution; that he was perpetually disqualified from holding office; that he is guilty of a crime involving moral turpitude; or that he has been sentenced by final judgment to a penalty or more than 18 months of imprisonment.
“Neither the body of the decision of the [CA]… nor the dispositive portion thereof born out any fact that renders [Marcos] ineligible to run for president of the Philippines… the [Comelec] therefore cannot resolve the instant petition on the merits, lest it runs afoul with the constitution,” the petition read.
FALSE MATERIAL REPRESENTATION
The petitioners have alleged that Marcos Jr. committed material false representation in his COC for declaring he possesses all qualifications to run for president, and not having been convicted for a crime that carries the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
False material representation is the sole ground to cancel a COC.
Petitioners also maintained Marcos Jr.’s conviction was on a crime involving moral turpitude.
But Marcos Jr. asserted the two “essential elements” to establish this, as provided by the SC “in a long line of cases” namely, materiality and intention to deceive, “were not established” by petitioners.
He maintained petitioners failed to cite any ground pertaining to the qualifications of a president under Sec. 2, Art. 7 of the constitution, and instead “resorted to additional matters.”
“[Marcos’] eligibility to run as president should be gauged solely and exclusively using the list of qualifications in Sec. 2, Art. 7 of the constitution. The use of any other criterion that is not among those enumerated in the said section violates the constitution,” the memorandum pointed out.
Marcos Jr. also stressed that perpetual disqualification as an accessory penalty inserted in the Tax Code, which his father and late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. passed, violates the constitutional bar on retroactive effect of laws.
“Sec. 22, Art. III (Bill of Rights) of the constitution prohibits ex post facto laws,” his memo read.
The memorandum also pointed out the insertion only took effect on Jan. 1, 1986, whereas the tax cases in point took place prior, and “he was no longer a public official” when the perpetual disqualification rule took effect.
Despite his tax case conviction, Marcos further argues he was “never” convicted by final judgment of a crime involving moral turpitude, and “never” sentenced by final judgment to a penalty of more than 18 months imprisonment.
Arguing he paid the fines that are subject of the trial court ruling on December 27, 2001, the former senator said “even assuming that [his] conviction for failure to file tax returns involves moral turpitude, any disqualification has been automatically removed upon the lapse of five years from the payment of fines and penalties.”
Moral turpitude refers to an "act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private duties..." and "encompasses everything which is done contrary to justice, honesty, or good morals."
Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code considers conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude a ground for disqualifying a person from running, unless pardoned or granted amnesty.
Seven other petitions have already been filed before the poll body seeking to either disqualify Marcos, cancel his certificate of candidacy, or declare him a nuisance.
His presidential bid is considered so far the most legally-contested in the country's recent election history.