Petition to disqualify BBM’s candidacy reaches SC

SEVERAL groups describing themselves as human rights victims during the martial law years have filed a petition before the Supreme Court, seeking to prevent Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. from assuming office as the 17th President of the country.

In a 70-page petition, the petitioners also sought the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) enjoining the Senate of the Philippines and the House of Representatives from canvassing the votes for Marcos Jr. and proclaiming him President, pending resolution of the petition.

The Senate and the House of Representatives are set to convene on May 23 to canvass the votes cast for the positions of president and vice president, and to proclaim the candidate who obtained the highest number of votes for the two toppositions.

Based on the latest partial and unofficial tally, Marcos is ahead in the presidential race with 31,104,175 votes.

Representatives of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, Kapatid-Families and Friends of Political Prisoners, Medical Action Group Inc., Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance Inc., Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates Inc. and Balay Rehabilitation Center Inc filed the petition.

Named respondents in the petition were the Commission on Elections (Comelec); Marcos Jr.; the Senate of the Philippines, represented by the Senate President; House of Representatives, represented by its Speaker.

The petitioners are also seeking the reversal of the May 10, 2022 and January 17, 2022 resolutions of the Comelec.

The May 10 resolution issued by the Comelec en banc dismissed the motions for reconsideration on two separate petitions filed before the poll body seeking to disqualify Marcos Jr., from seeking the presidency.

Both petitions were anchored on Marcos Jr. ‘s alleged failure to file income tax returns from 1982 to 1985 while he was a public official in Ilocos Norte.

The petition filed by Fr. Christian Buenafe, Fides Lim, Ma. Edeliza Hernandez, Celia Lagman Sevilla, Roland Vibal, and Josephine Lascano was junked by the Comelec’s Second Division due to lack of merit, prompting them to elevate the issue before the SC.

The petitioners argued that the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion when it gave weight to Marcos’ material representation that he is eligible for the position of President and that he has not been convicted of a crime punishable with the penalty of perpetual disqualification from public office.

It added that the Comelec erred in holding that Marcos Jr. did not deliberately attempt to mislead, misinform, or deceive the electorate and that his status as a public officer at the time of the commission of the offense he was convicted of “is not a conclusive and incontrovertible fact.”

The petitioners argued that Marcos Jr., has been a public officer for more than 25 years and that he was charged in eight criminal tax cases before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 105 for violating the National Internal Revenue code (NIRC) of 1977, on his failure to file income tax returns for 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985.

The Quezon City RTC sentenced Marcos to nine years imprisonment for failure to pay his income tax returns and to pay the taxes for the years 1982 until 1985.

He was ordered to serve six months imprisonment and to pay a fine of P2,000 for each charge in Criminal Case Nos. Q-92-29213, Q-92-29212, Q-92-29217 for failure to file income tax for the years 1982, 1983 and 1984; serve six months and pay a fine of P2,000 for each charge in Criminal Cases Nos. Q-92-29216, Q-92-29215, Q-92-29214 for failure to pay income taxes for the years 1982,1983, and 1984; to serve imprisonment of three years and pay a fine of P30,000 in Criminal Case Nos. Q-91-24391 for failure to file income tax return for the year 1985; to serve imprisonment for three years and pay a fine of P30,000 in Criminal Case No. Q-91-24390 for failure to pay income tax for the year 1985.

The Quezon City RTC also ordered Marcos Jr. to pay the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) the taxes due, including such penalties, interests and surcharges.

Marcos Jr. then appealed the case before the Court of Appeals (CA). On Oct. 31, 1997, and the CA reportedly affirmed Marcos’ conviction beyond reasonable doubt for violating Section 45 of the NIRC related to his failure to file income tax returns for the taxable years 1982 to 1985.

The CA ordered Marcos to pay the BIR the deficiency income taxes due with interest at the legal rate until fully paid; to pay the fine of P2,000 for each charge in Criminal Cases Nos. Q-92-29213, Q-92-29212; and Q-92-29217 for the failure to file income tax returns for the years 1982, 1983, and 1984; and a fine of P30,000 in Criminal Case No. Q-91-24391 for failure to file income tax return for 1985 with surcharges.

Marcos appealed the Appellate Court’s decision before the SC, but later withdrew. In the Entry of Judgment, the CA also certified that its October 31, 1997 Decision was final and executory.

“This conviction for violation of Section 45 of the 1977 NIRC (National Internal Revenue Code) was affirmed by the Court of Appeals.

“The affirmed conviction by the Court of Appeals was no longer challenged by respondent Marco Jr. before the Supreme Court thus rendering his conviction final,” the petitioners noted.

“This final conviction for violating the NIRC, as amended, was never denied by respondent Marcos Jr. in his answer. It stands as an irrefutable fact, binding and conclusive on respondent Marcos,” it added.

The petitioners added that Marcos Jr., has not yet complied with the criminal penalty that attained finality more than 20 years ago.

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