Guanzon on Marcos’ DQ cases: Non-filing of ITR constitutes moral turpitude, 'serious defect' in moral fiber

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 31) — Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon has released her separate opinion explaining why she voted to disqualify presidential bet Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos based on the consolidated petitions challenging his candidacy.

In a 24-page document released on Monday afternoon, Guanzon noted that his non-filing of income tax returns from 1982 to 1985 when he was governor and vice governor of Ilocos Norte constitutes “moral turpitude” — a ground for disqualification.

"After an assiduous analysis of the arguments of the parties and the evidence on record, I find that Respondent's repeated and persistent non-filing of income tax returns in 1982, 1983, 1984, and 1985, which resulted in his conviction, constitutes an offense involving moral turpitude," she said.

Guanzon noted that while the absolute sum of the deficiency taxes may not seem very large today, Marcos "appears to have evaded payment" of 100% of his income taxes in 1982, 40% in 1983, 28.7% in 1984, and 29.2% in 1985.

Despite the Marcos camp showing a receipt for a ₱67,000 payment supposedly certified by the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Guanzon said she finds more weight in the non-compliance certification of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, since it was the court that issued the penalties. The payment should have been made in the same court as well.

"Taken together, all of these circumstances reveal that Respondent's failure to file his income tax returns for almost half a decade is reflective of a serious defect in one's moral fiber," she added.

Fellow commissioner Aimee Ferolino, the ponente in the consolidated disqualification petitions filed by Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party, Bonifacio Ilagan, and Abubakar Mangelen against Marcos, has not yet penned the decision, which was supposed to be out by Jan. 17.

Earlier in the day, Guanzon challenged Ferolino to step down with her following the alleged delay in the release of the resolution. Ferolino has refused to comment on the matter, saying it "might be against the sub judice rule."

In a memorandum later in the day, Ferolino responded to Guanzon's allegations, noting that she is "judiciously scrutinizing all the attached evidence" and substance of the documents related to the case.

"I am asking you to please stop conditioning the minds of the people that there is a delay because there is none...spare the Commission from all these controversies because you are destroying the credibility of the agency," Ferolino said.

Not retroactive

Guanzon is set to retire on Feb. 2 and Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said if the decision is not released by then, her vote to disqualify Marcos could be invalidated.

LIST: Petitions against Bongbong Marcos' 2022 presidential bid

"Concurring opinions, dissenting opinions do not form part of the case. They are just persuasive, instructional, enlightening, and sometimes can be the basis for jurisprudence," Jimenez noted.

What now?

Jimenez explained that pending the decision, Marcos can still campaign for the presidency.

If he gets disqualified before he can be proclaimed president, votes to his name will be considered stray votes and will not reflect in the canvassing tally.

However, if he secures the presidency but gets disqualified after, he will be removed from office and the vice president will take over his post.

"Actions will have to be taken to remove him from office. There will be lawyers who will tell what the actions will be, but in effect, that will invalidate his win...Sisipa rin diyan ang rules of succession [Rules of succession would still apply], from president to vice president," Jimenez noted.

CNN Philippines' Glee Jalea and Melissa Lopez contributed to this report.