University of Santo Tomas’s (UST) Dean of law believes the effort to cancel presidential aspirant and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. from competing in the 2022 presidential elections will “fail” due to a lack of merit.
On November 2, a coalition of political detainees, human rights and medical organizations petitioned the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to revoke Marcos’ candidacy certificate (CoC).
The petitioners alleged that Marcos, the standard bearer of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, is unable to run for public office because he was convicted in a 1995 tax evasion case by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.
“The petition is bound to collapse once evaluated by the Comelec,”Nilo Divina, UST law dean explained.
“The petition appears to be defective in form and offers insufficient legal basis to obtain its desired judgment,”Divina further said.
He pointed out that instead of offering factual statements and legal foundations to support its claim of Marcos’ ineligibility to run for president, the campaign instead relied on ad hominem attacks.
“The narratives of the 57-page petition lay down invectives in almost all pages against the family of respondent Marcos. It’s ad hominem, or an attack against the character of the respondent, that may weaken the petitioners’ position. It is the law, always, that matters. It is the intent that invokes the law that often justifies or bungles it. But at the end of the day, the law remains the law,”Divina said.
Divina, according to the Marcos camp was the second legal luminary from illustrious law universities who expressed opinions against a petition seeking to cancel or deny Marcos’ CoC because he failed to file his income tax returns (ITRs).
Alberto Agra, an Ateneo University law professor and former Justice Secretary, said on Friday that the petition has no merit and is unlikely to be heard.
According to Agra, the Omnibus Election Code clearly states that Marcos is qualified to run for president because his CoC submission contains no flaws.
“Ang nakalagay sa batas ay kailangan sentenced, may (What the law states is that there must be a) final judgment of imprisonment,”Agra pointed out.
“Marcos was not sentenced to imprisonment and was only penalized with a fine,”he added.
Agra stated that he is neither a lawyer nor a supporter of Marcos, but based on his review of the petition, it appears that the case is not one of tax evasion, but rather one of failure to file his ITR.
To have a candidate’s CoC revoked, he or she must be found guilty and sentenced to more than 18 months in prison, or convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.
He stated that if immorality or the intent to cheat is proven, one can be convicted of moral turpitude.
Ang tanong ngayon ay ‘yun bang hindi pag-file ng income tax return, ‘yun ba ay crime involving moral turpitude? Siyempre hindi (The question now is, does the failure to file income tax return involve moral turpitude? Of course not),”Agra said.
Marcos has stated that he is not concerned about the disqualification case, believing it to be a form of political harassment.
Reference/s: The Manila Times