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Ilocano group files another disqualification case vs. Bongbong Marcos

Another disqualification case was lodged against presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., this time by a group of Ilocanos, before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday.

Pudno Nga Ilokano (Ang Totoong Ilokano) filed the fourth disqualification case against Marcos, according to GMA News’ Joseph Morong.

Petitioners in the latest disqualification case filed against Marcos include Margarita Salonga Salandanan, Crisanto Ducusin Palabay, Mario Flores Ben, Danilo Austria Consumido, Raoul Hafalla Tividad, Nida Mallare Gatchallan, and Nomer Calulot Kuan.

In their petition, the group said Marcos was convicted eight times by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, Branch 105 in 1995 for failure to file his income tax returns as governor of Ilocos Norte for taxable years 1982 to 1985 and for the latter’s failure to pay the corresponding deficiency taxes.

While the decisions were appealed before the Court of Appeals, the petitioners said the appellate court affirmed the judgment of “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” on four convictions.

As rendered by the QC RTC, petitioners said Marcos’ conviction on four tax cases carries the penalty of three years imprisonment and a payment of P30,000. However, the CA imposed the payment of fine but
omitted the imprisonment mandated by law.”

“Thus, notwithstanding the CA’s omission of the penalty of imprisonment in its Decision, herein Petitioners firmly state that the correct penalty of fine and imprisonment as prescribed by the [National Internal Revenue Code] of 19776 on a person’s ‘failure to make a return’ should be considered for purposes of determining the qualification of Respondent to run for President under existing laws,” they said.

The group likewise noted that the penalty of prision correccional carries with it accessory penalty of perpetual special disqualification from the right of suffrage under Article 43 of the Revised Penal Code which, they said, has “suppletory application” to the NIRC as a special law.

“The RTC imposed upon Respondent the penalty of prision correccional or imprisonment of three (3) years under Criminal Case No. Q-91-24391. Thus, the imposition of the penalty of prision correccional clearly subjects Respondent to the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from the right of suffrage, which bars him from being elected as President,” they argued.

Supporting this argument, petitioners also cited Section 2, Article VII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which states that an elected president should be a “registered voter.”

“In this case, given Respondent’s conviction under Criminal Case No. Q-91-24391 by the RTC, which carried the penalty of prision correccional, he is therefore perpetually disqualified from the right of suffrage and cannot be a registered voter. Given this, he cannot be elected as President. Although he is a ‘registered voter’ on paper, such registration is void because he is perpetually disqualified from the right of suffrage,” they said.

The petitioners likewise cited Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines which state that any person who has been sentenced by final judgment for any offense for which he has been sentenced to a penalty of more than 18 months or for a crime involving “moral turpitude” shall be disqualified to be a candidate for and to hold any public office.

They said Marcos’ successive convictions on four counts of non-filing of income tax return and non-payment of deficiency income tax, as well as his “continuing failure” to rectify and comply with his obligation before the RTC and CA since the pendency of his case up to this day, “clearly constitutes” a crime involving moral turpitude.

“This shows Respondent’s willful intent to evade a statutorily imposed civic duty and Respondent’s moral depravity, manifest disregard, and blatant defiance of the Court and of the law, which make him morally unfit to run for President of the Philippines,” the petitioners said.

Speaking to the media, the group's leader, Crisanto Palabay, cited Marcos’ tax-related convictions as a ground to disqualify him from the presidential race.

This was similar to the arguments raised by other petitioners who are seeking to either  disqualify or cancel Marcos’ certificate of candidacy (COC) for president.

Petitioners in the latest disqualification case filed against Marcos include Palabay, Margarita Salonga Salandanan, Mario Flores Ben, Danilo Austria Consumido, Raoul Hafalla Tividad, Nida Mallare Gatchallan, and Nomer Calulot Kuan.

According to Palabay, three members of their group were victims of the Martial Law declared by Marcos' father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

“Kami po ay naniniwala na hindi siya karapat-dapat na maging kandidato. Bakit po? Siya po ay hindi nagbayad ng kanyang buwis nang apat na beses at s’ya ay nahatulan na dapat magbayad s’ya. Hindi niya pa nababayaran ang kanyang buwis hanggang ngayon. Kaya kami ay nagpa-file ng disqualification case,” Palabay told reporters.

(We believe that he is not qualified to be a candidate. Why? Because he did not pay his taxes four times. He was convicted and was told to pay his dues but he has not paid it yet up until today. This is why we are filing a disqualification case.)

“Paano susunod ang mga taongbayan sa pagbabayad ng buwis kung ang isang kandidato para sa presidente ay ‘di nagbabayad ng buwis?”

(How will the Filipinos follow our laws in paying taxes if a candidate for president did not pay his taxes?)

Palabay also claimed that the so-called “Solid North” is already disbanded.

“Kaming mga taga-Ilocos Region, kaming mga Ilokano, naniniwala na hindi talaga, wala ng Solid North [We, in the Ilocos Region, believe that Solid North no longer exists],” he said.

The Marcos family is from Ilocos Norte.

'Nuisance cases'

In a statement, Atty. Vic Rodriguez, Marcos' spokesperson, described the petitions as "nuisance cases" and "pathetic stunts." He said their legal team is already addressing them.

"And while we maintain that these petitions are nothing but nuisance cases, we urge those who are behind these pathetic stunts to please respect the Filipino people and their democratic right to decide for themselves and their collective future," Rodriguez said.

"We also urge them not to remove the right of the people to freely choose their leader and stop looking down on the intelligence of the Filipino people.  Election are won and settled on election day and not through the filing of nuisance petitions."

At present, at least seven petitions were filed before the Comelec which are either seeking to cancel Bongbong’s COC or disqualify him from the race.  —KBK, GMA News