Decision allowing Marcos Jr’s candidacy ‘disrespects truth and justice’

Dismayed petitioners to file appeal on Monday

Opponents of the return of the Marcoses to Malacanang said they are dismayed at the decision dismissing their petition to disqualify Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as presidential candidate and vowed to file a motion for reconsideration with the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

In an online press conference Friday morning, Atty. Howard Calleja said the decision as penned by Commissioner Aimee Ferolino puts doubt on the process and the entire Comelec.

Calleja said he disagrees with the division’s decision saying there are laws against tax evasion, a charge Marcos Jr. was judged guilty by the Court of Appeals.

“We know there are laws on that. We need to respect the decision but we are ready to file our motion for reconsideration (with the Comele en banc) on Monday or Tuesday at the latest,” Calleja said.

“At this point, we will continue to exhaust all legal remedies to bring out the truth, to attain justice and to bring the case to the proper legal conclusion it deserves,” he added.

Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMML) convenor and petitioner against Marcos Jr.’s candidacy Bonifacio Ilagan said the decision disrespects truth, the facts themselves and justice.

“Because the respondent is a candidate for the presidency, how can he be worthy of the office he is seeking if he does not follow the law on filing taxes?” Ilagan asked.

Co-petitioner Dr. Erlinda Senturias likewise expressed dismay over the decision, saying “Paying taxes is the lifeblood of the nation. Not paying taxes is an act of moral turpitude because it is contrary to honesty, modesty and good morals.”

“The issue of evading paying taxes is a big thing for ordinary citizens like us who pay taxes. We expect those who seek to lead us as president are really honest and follow the really simple and basic tasks such as paying taxes for the government to have funds to implement projects,” she explained.

CARMML members are co-petitioners against Marcos Jr.’s candidacy.

Controversial decision

The Comelec finally released the long-awaited decision wrote by Ferolino Thursday night, February 10, two weeks after retired Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said it was due.

Guanzon alleged Ferolino deliberately delayed the promulgation for after her retirement last February 2 to render her decision moot to grant the petition and disqualify Marcos Jr from the presidential race.

Guanzon released her separate opinion a day before her retirement, saying Marcos Jr. is guilty of moral turpitude for failing to pay taxes as Ilocos Norte vice governor and governor for four years in 1982 to 1986.

In the Comelec First Division decision penned by Ferolino and affirmed by Commissioner Marlon Casquejo, the petition to disqualify Marcos Jr. was junked.

His conviction of failure to file income tax returns did not violate Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code, the decision says.

It states that a candidate is disqualified if he has been declared insane or incompetent, convicted of an offense with a penalty of more than 18 months’ imprisonment, and convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.

If not moral turpitude, what is?

Other progressive organizations dismissed the decision’s justification however and alleged that the Comelec First Division favored a tax evader.

“According to the decision, non-payment of taxes for four years is a small matter. The First Division also dismissed the fact that Marcos Jr. did not pay penalties for his tax evasion for more than two decades. The First Division really paves the way for tax evaders like Marcos to make a run for the presidency,” Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said in a statement.

“The decision insults regular citizens who pay taxes religiously,” Bayan added.

Peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) for its part described the decision as an utter disappointment and deserving of public  outrage and condemnation, adding the ruling was deliberately delayed to exclude the opinion of former Commissioner Rowena Guanzon favoring the disqualification of Marcos Jr.

“The Comelec’s decision is a disservice to the electorate and the Filipino people. Ang mga magsasaka nga’ng hindi nakakapagpabayad ng buwis, pinapalayas sa lupa, tapos si Marcos Jr. na ilang ulit hindi nagbayad wala lang?” KMP National Chairperson Danilo Ramos said. (Farmers who fail to pay taxes are driven off. But when Marcos Jr. repeatedly fails to pay, it’s alright?)

“It’s incredible how far Commissioner Aimee Ferolino is willing to bend over and twist the law in favor of a convicted tax evader,” Ramos said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)