“These people are running out of options.”
Apparently running out of issues to confront presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. with, or any strategy to block his impending assumption into office, these people have opted to look stupid rather wave the white flag.
The other day, a group composed of Fr. Christian Buenafe, Fides Lim, Ma. Edeliza Hernandez, Celia Lagman Sevilla, Roland Vibal, and Josephine Lascano, filed a petition before the Supreme Court, asking among others, a temporary restraining order for both Houses of Congress to stop their canvassing of the votes for the presidential elections, nullifying the May 10, 2022 resolution of the Commission on Elections en banc which ruled against the disqualification of Marcos in the last May 9 presidential election and declaring void ab initio the Certificate of Candidacy for President that was filed by BBM last October, and to declare that he has never been a candidate in the 2022 National Elections.
According to the petitioners, Comelec, named one of the respondents, “failed to carry out its mandate to enforce and administer the laws relating to the conduct of elections when it refused, despite basis, to exercise its duty to cancel respondent Marcos Jr.’s COC in view of the latter’s material misrepresentations,” as they insist BBM is a convicted criminal by virtue of his conviction by a Regional Trial Court in connection to his failure to file his income tax returns from 1982 to 1985, which they claim, is a gross misrepresentation in his CoC
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate joined the fray as he pushed for the SC to act swiftly on the petition, saying “There is a righteous expectation among our people for the Supreme Court to act with dispatch on the recently filed petition to cancel the candidacy of presumptive president Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr.”
First things first. The period in question was during the time BBM was serving as a public official. He was vice governor of Ilocos Norte from 1980 to 1983 and assumed the gubernatorial post that year up to 1986.
Now, as a government official, much like an ordinary government employee, taxes were withheld from BBM’s salaries for the period in question. And that is precisely the reason why the court of Appeal reversed the decision of the Quezon City RTC finding BBM guilty of tax evasion, and reducing it to failure to file income tax returns, meting him a simple fine and doing away with the prison sentence. This was upheld no less by the High Court. And failure to file an income tax return which carries a penalty of merely a fine does not constitute a crime involving moral turpitude, which bars anyone from seeking an election post, which is the basis of the petition filed by that particular group.
In another booboo, the petitioners, interpreting the events that transpired then, including the court decisions, said BBM withdrew his appeal before the SC. Of course he did. But what he withdrew was his appeal of the CA decision ordering him to pay a fine and not the QC-RTC decision which was already reversed by the CA.
And yet, this group is trying to stop Congress from carrying out its sacred duty to canvass the votes cast for the presidential and vice presidential candidate and proclaim the winners.
With BBM leading in the unofficial Comelec tally but based on official election returns, this group is essentially asking Congress to disenfranchise the more than 31 million Filipinos who voted for Marcos, representing 56 percent of those who casted their votes last May 9 and thus, proclaim losing candidate Leni Robredo who garnered just over 14 million votes, equivalent to 236 percent of the total votes cast.
How stupid these people can get?
Even before the Comelec decided on the BBM disqualification and cancellation of CoC cases, I was already predicting those would be dismissed.
In a previous article, I cited the opinion of a former dean of Ateneo School of Government, lawyer Tony La Viña, who said there was the strong probability the Comelec will not only rely on the legal technicalities in deciding the petitions, but more on the basis of the political doctrine.
According to La Viña, the court, or the Comelec for that matter, cannot disqualify or dismiss a leading candidate that enjoys the support of the majority of the electorate.
“That is political law 101. That certain things should be decided by the people and not by the courts,” La Viña said then.
Also, former Justice Secretary and Ateneo Law School professor Alberto Agra says the petition filed to cancel BBM’s CoC has no basis as his case is not tax-evasion but simply failure to file his ITR.
The law states that in order to cancel the CoC of any candidate, he or she must be found guilty and punished with more than 18 months of imprisonment and be convicted of a crime involving ‘moral turpitude,’ which Agra says cannot qualify for the non-filing of ITR.
Agra notes that the Supreme Court has already clarified the issue, saying that a crime concerning the filing of ITR would involve moral turpitude if there was fraud committed.
Actually, this is not the first time the Comelec had decided a disqualification case for a presidential candidate based on political doctrine and not on the basis of legal technicalities. It had done so in 2016 and it involved President Rodrigo Duterte.
That time, there were petitions asking the poll body to cancel Duterte’s CoC for president, saying Martin Diño as standard bearer of the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan for whom he was substituting, filed a CoC as mayoral candidate for Pasay City and not for president.
So, how could Duterte then run for president if there was no CoC to substitute for?
However, the Comelec decided to ignore that saying Diño’s intent to run for president was clear despite his error.
Unfortunately, these people, militants turned to militontos won’t hear anything of these. They have raised the issue of BBM’s diploma which they did not do during the time of former President Erap Estrada, who is an admitted school dropout, they have raised the issue of ill-gotten wealth but have not questioned all the previous administrations for failing to file criminal charges against the Marcoses (How can they be proven to be ill-gotten if there is no conviction related to graft and corruption?), they even raised the issue of the unpaid estate tax even if the courts have declared the Marcoses are not responsible for the tax liabilities as the estate themselves would take care of the unpaid levies, but which incidentally, would tend to prove those properties are not ill-gotten.
They will raise issue after issue against Marcos., even if they will look stupid in the process as the legitimacies of the issues are the least of their concern. What matters most to them is they have to raise whatever issue they can imagine of, because he is a Marcos. And BBM ascending into office will negate all those negative and false historical narratives they have concocted for the past four decades against the Marcoses.
Nonetheless, the Marcos camp is willing to extend them a reconciliatory gesture. BBM’s chief of staff and spokesman is appealing to them to stop pursuing their agenda of divisiveness and animosity and instead unite with them in working productively for the next six years.
“I appeal to those who keep on pursuing this divisiveness, the people have spoken. The Filipino people have spoken and an overwhelming majority has voted President-elect Bongbong Marcos and Vice President-elect Inday Sara Duterte into office as President and Vice President. Learn to respect the will of the Filipino people,” Rodriguez said in a statement.
“And I appeal to you, instead of pushing for your agenda of animosity e tulungan niyo na lang kami na pagtuunan at gamitin natin ang ating limitadong oras every day, we are all limited to 24 hours in a day, allow us to be more productive,” he added.
But I doubt they will listen.