Marcos camp denies 'tax evader' claims, says 'yellow wannabes' using Comelec in petition

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Members of Akbayan Partylist hold a "taxpayers' protest action" before COMELEC on Thursday, November 4, calling to nullify Bongbong Marcos' certificate of candidacy in the 2022 elections due to his 1995 tax conviction.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 4) — The camp of presidential aspirant Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. maintained his conviction for failure to file income tax returns is not tantamount to tax evasion, following a petition to cancel his 2022 candidacy.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source on Thursday, Marcos' spokesperson Vic Rodriguez said the plea to void the presidential aspirant's candidacy was only a propaganda initiated by some "yellow wannabe political assassins."

"Ang importante, i-disabuse natin ang pag-iisip ng sambayanang Pilipino dahil sa propagandang ginagawa nitong mga yellow wannabe political assassins," Rodriguez said. "Walang tax evasion, non-filing lang po. Failure to file an income tax return. Magkaibang magkaiba po iyon."

[Translation: What's important is we must disabuse the minds of Filipinos out of this propaganda initiated by some yellow-wannabe political assassins. There is no tax evasion, only non-filing. Failure to file an income tax return. That's totally different.]

Rodriguez reasoned that Marcos was not able to correct his lapses in filing his tax returns because his father and namesake's regime fell in 1986.

He was referring to pro-democracy protests that culminated in a "people power" revolution which ousted late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in February 1986 and swept Corazon Aquino to power.

Marcos served as vice governor of Ilocos Norte from 1981 to 1983 and was governor from 1983 to 1986. Rodriguez said Marcos' taxes should have been filed by the provincial capitol at the time.

The 57-page petition of civic leaders pointed out that Marcos was convicted in July 1995 by a Quezon City court for his multiple failures to file income tax returns from 1982 to 1985, a crime of "moral turpitude," just like the Marcos family's "repeated evasion" of duty for refusing to settle unpaid liability which now amounts to ₱203.8 billion.

RELATED: Petition vs. Bongbong Marcos' presidential bid filed before Comelec 

Rodriguez dismissed this as another attempt by political opponents to "cheat," just like what they supposedly did when Marcos lost his vice presidential bid in 2016.

"Ang sinasabi lang namin, wag nating gawing launching pad ang Comelec sa mga yellow propaganda. Kung maari, lumaban naman ng patas ang aming mga katunggali."

[Translation: What we're saying is that, let's not make Comelec a launching pad for some yellow propaganda. As much as possible, let's fight fair.]

The defeated vice-presidential candidate continues to challenge the Presidential Electoral Tribunal in his election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo, who is months' away from concluding her term and also gunning for the presidency in the 2022 polls.

Meanwhile, members of Akbayan Party-list held a "taxpayers' protest action" in front of the Comelec office in Manila on Thursday, joining the call to nullify Marcos' presidential bid due to his tax evasion conviction.

"The call to cancel Bongbong's candidacy is very simple," Akbayan said in a statement. "He was convicted of tax evasion in 1995...when he filed his COC for president, he omitted this fact, thus, forswearing himself and lying to the Comelec and Filipino people."

It added: "We ask the Comelec to act on this petition urgently and protect our electoral democracy. This is a matter of both public trust and democratic integrity. Si Bongbong na tax evader ay hindi dapat iboto ng mga taxpayers (Taxpayers should not vote for Bongbong, a tax evader)."