Politics

Marcos faces another disqualification case on presidential run

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THE ONLY son and namesake of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos is facing another suit seeking to disqualify him from the presidential race.

In a 13-page document, members of Akbayan Party-list and various sectoral groups told the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. should be disqualified after a trial court convicted him in 1995 for tax evasion.

The arguments in the sixth petition were similar to earlier lawsuits seeking the disqualification of the former senator, who lost by a hair in the 2016 vice-presidential race. Mr. Marcos topped a Social Weather Stations poll in October on top presidential candidates.

The plaintiffs cited a 1997 Internal Revenue Code that penalizes offenders with dismissal from public service and perpetual disqualification from public office.

They noted that Mr. Marcos’s tax conviction for failing to file his income tax returns in the early 1980s became final in 2001.

“His final conviction necessarily carried with it the penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding any public office, voting and participating in any election,” they said.

Mr. Marcos committed crimes of moral turpitude — a ground for disqualification under the country’s election code — when he failed to pay the taxes, they added.

“When the respondent decided to evade his duty of filing his income tax returns for the years 1982 to 1985, he was robbing the government of the opportunity to ascertain the correct income taxes due from him,” they said.

“Worse, the respondent refused to file his income tax returns while sitting as a public officer, no less than the governor of Ilocos Norte,” they added. “His continued refusal was a betrayal of the very government that he swore to serve.”

Citing jurisprudence, the plaintiffs also said it is the Comelec’s duty to enforce all elections laws, including disqualifying unfit candidates.

They noted that under the Omnibus Election Code, anyone sentenced to a jail term of more than 18 months by final conviction will be disqualified from holding any government posts.

The Court of Appeals in 1997 upheld Mr. Marcos’ conviction but it did not impose a jail term.

The plaintiffs said the appellate court had erred when it excluded the penalty of imprisonment against Mr. Marcos.

The late dictator’s son filed his candidacy papers for president in October, angering activists and victims of his father’s two-decade rule.

He is facing five other petitions at the election body, one of which seeks to have him declared as a nuisance candidate.

Mr. Marcos, who has said lawsuits seeking his disqualification were nothing but trash, is running in tandem with President Rodrigo R. Duterte daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

The tandem has received the backing of ex-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s Lakas-CMD. Ms. Arroyo, who was jailed under the administration of Benigno S.C. Aquino III, joined them at a campaign gathering on Dec. 1.

Mr. Marcos’ Partido Federal ng Pilipinas and Ms. Caprio’s Lakas-CMD have sealed an alliance with the political party founded by ex-President Joseph E. Estrada, who was toppled by a popular uprising in 2001. He spent years in prison before he was convicted for corruption and later pardoned by Ms. Arroyo.

Political analysts have said next year’s elections are still dominated by political dynasties and celebrities who are banking on their popularity to win. The next Philippine president would probably fail again to get majority votes, they added. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza