Comelec division junks last disqualification case vs Marcos

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 20)— The Commission on Elections (Comelec) First Division has dismissed the last pending disqualification case against the presidential bid of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos.

The plea, lodged by the group Pudno nga Ilokano, was junked for “lack of merit,” according to the poll body’s document released to the media on Wednesday.

In their 29-page decision, Commissioners Socorro Inting, Aimee Ferolino, and Aimee Neri concluded that the son and namesake of the late dictator possesses all the qualifications needed to run for the country’s top post.

At the same time, they countered the arguments raised by the petitioners.

No moral turpitude, not disqualified

Filed in December 2021, the group’s petition cited Marcos’ previous conviction for failure to file income tax returns.

But the division was “not convinced” that the cases translated to moral turpitude, which is a ground for disqualification.

“An assiduous study of the records and relevant jurisprudence yields to a conclusion that there is no moral turpitude in this case,” read the decision.

The commissioners also believe that failure to file income tax returns per se is “not inherently wrong.”

“This is supported by the fact that the filing of income tax return is only an obligation created by law and the omission to do so is only considered as wrong because the law penalizes it,” the document noted.

The division also said that Marcos cannot be accused of tax evasion and that the government “was not defrauded.”

“He may have been neglectful in performing this obligation, it however does not reflect moral depravity,” it said.

Officials of the poll body also argued that the former senator is “not perpetually disqualified” from holding any public office, as well as from voting and participating in any election.

With the decision, all cases blocking Marcos’ presidential bid have now been dismissed at the division level.

Majority of the petitioners have appealed their respective decisions before the Comelec en banc.

Marcos welcomes dismissal; petitioners to appeal

Marcos, meanwhile, welcomed the news.

“Of course, it’s a good development,” he told reporters in an ambush interview.

Petitioners, on the other hand, vowed that they will appeal the decision before the en banc at the soonest possible time.

CNN Philippines' Melissa Lopez and Alyssa Rola contributed to this report.