Seventh case vs Marcos’ presidential bid now up for decision

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 19) — The seventh and final case against presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos is now up for decision before the Commission on Elections’ Second Division.

Petitioners Pudno nga Ilokano, led by former Comelec chairman Christian Monsod, and lawyers of Marcos have submitted their respective memoranda on the disqualification plea against the former senator on Monday, which marked the end of the proceedings.

The same division dismissed another petition to cancel Marcos' certificate of candidacy (COC) after a month of deliberations. In their 32-page ruling released earlier this week, the commissioners sided with the Marcos camp to refute the claim of human rights groups represented by lawyer Theodore Te that the presidential hopeful lied about his eligibility to vie for the presidency.

LIST: Petitions against Bongbong Marcos' 2022 presidential bid

The latest case filed by Pudno nga Ilokano also seeks to disqualify Marcos for being found guilty of not filing his income tax returns (ITRs) from 1982 to 1985, when he was vice governor and eventually governor of Ilocos Norte. The group claimed that the presidential hopeful was not only punished with a perpetual ban from any government post, but also lost his right to vote "in any election" due to the conviction. All political aspirants must be registered voters, according to the 1987 Constitution which Monsod helped craft.

"Although he is a 'registered voter' on paper, such registration is void because he is perpetually disqualified from the right of suffrage," the petitioners said.

They also argued that Marcos cannot escape the punishment just because he is leading in early presidential surveys –- one of the arguments repeatedly raised by his lawyers, citing latest poll results.

The same group also argued that Marcos' repeated failure to file his ITRs for four straight years should be considered a crime of moral turpitude, or contrary to good morals, because of his "repeated blatant disregard of a fundamental statutory obligation," especially so that he was a public official then.

Pudno also said Marcos cannot claim to benefit from a new law that decriminalized the non-filing of ITRs for pure compensation income earners, arguing that he was not, as he was concurrently serving as board chairman of the state-run Philippine Communications Satellite Corporation while serving in Ilocos Norte.

"A candidate who does not possess the qualifications to run for public office can be disqualified. There is no legal basis or case law that supports that a candidate who is leading in election surveys cannot be disqualified. Thus, the eligibility for public office is not a political issue," the group added, asking the poll body to ban Marcos from running for any post from hereon.

In response, the Marcos camp insisted anew that he was allowed to run for many elective posts by the Comelec in previous years, citing his record as governor, congressman, senator, and even his attempt to be vice president.

"Even this honorable Commission has effectively ruled that BBM is not perpetually disqualified despite the conviction by allowing BBM to repeatedly run for office," Marcos' lawyers said in their own response. "To rule otherwise would be tantamount to admitting that this Honorable Commission had not been performing its Constitutional mandate — a clear case of culpable violation of the Constitution."

They also argue that Marcos cannot be disqualified anymore as he had already paid the fines for the tax cases in December 2001.

The Second Division previously ruled that since the Court of Appeals did not punish Marcos with a ban from public office, it cannot be imposed upon him.

There are four other pending cases opposing Marcos' presidential run at the Comelec’s division level.

READ: Marcos still part of the ballot despite pending cases – Comelec