“Allowing Marcos Jr. to run will be a mockery not only of the elections but of our nation’s history, our democracy, and our hard-won rights and freedoms.”
By RAQUEL ALVAREZ
MANILA – Presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. did not appear before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) preliminary conference on the disqualification case against him, Friday, January 7.
Marcos Jr.’s counsel claimed that his client was sick, and due to sore throat and low-grade fever, could not attend the hearing even via online video conferencing platform. His doctor said that the son of the late dictator had direct contact with two people who tested positive to COVID-19.
Comelec Commissioner Rowena V. Guanzon reiterated during the hearing that the appearance of those involved in the case, Marcos Jr. included, would determine their interest in resolving the case.
Petitioners who filed the complaints, namely Bonifacio Ilagan of the Campaign Against the Return of Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA), Akbayan and other civic leaders together with their lawyers Jake Rey Fajardo and Howard Calleja were present during the hearing. They reiterated Marcos Jr.’s crime of moral turpitude having been found guilty by the courts for failure to file his income tax return (ITR) from 1982 to 1985. During this time he served as vice governor of Ilocos Norte, and then in 1983-1986 as governor of the same province.
“The whole nation is watching, we reiterate this stand in our petition: Marcos Jr. should be disqualified from running for president in the upcoming elections,” CARMMA said in a statement. “Allowing Marcos Jr. to run will be a mockery not only of the elections but of our nation’s history, our democracy, and our hard-won rights and freedoms.”
Petitioners’ lawyers argued that Marcos Jr.’s inability to file his income tax violates the National Internal Revenue Code of 1977 section 253- C, which carries with it the penalty of perpetual disqualification to vote, hold any public office and participate in the elections.
The Quezon City Regional Trial court sentenced Marcos to three-year imprisonment for his failure to file ITR for the year 1985 and another three years for his failure to pay ITR in the same year. He was also sentenced to imprisonment for six months for not filing and paying his ITR for the years 1982, 1983, and 1984.
Although the Court of Appeals later on junked the imprisonment sentence, the CA required him to pay the taxes and fines. His lawyer Hanna Barcena said Marcos Jr. was able to pay his overdue taxes and fines directly to Landbank in 2001. However, they were unable to present the official receipt for the said payment during the conference.
The petitioners insisted that by indicating in his Certificate of Candidacy that he has not been convicted of any case that carries with it the penalty of perpetual participation in holding public office, Marcos Jr. materially misrepresented himself.
Marcos Jr. should file a motion to have his petition dismissed within 48 hours. His lawyer appealed for a 15- day period and requested for an “off record” session to state the reason for their inability to complete the motion within 48 hours. (RTS, RVO)