"BBM was undisputedly convicted of a crime involving two tax laws, and he undisputedly lied in his COC about his eligibility."
Some law students are told by their professors that the best marketing agents for legal practice are legislators. That’s because legislators often craft or structure laws in a way that leaves the door open for conflicting interpretations. When the intendments of laws are clear and unconfusing, no need for interpretation arises and hence no need is created for the services of legal practitioners.
It goes without saying that when lawyers, in support of the positions of their clients, advance interpretations of laws that are contrary to the intendments of the laws’ authors, the laws unusually end up perverted or rendered ineffectual.
Cases in point are the interpretations offered by the legal counsel of Presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr – the man known as Bongbong or BBM – for certain provisions of three laws, namely, Presidential Decree (PO) No. 1994, the Tax Code (National Internal Revenue Code of 1977) and the OEC (Omnibus Election Code)
To a sensible layman, the concerned provisions of these laws are clear and therefore need no interpretation. PD 1994 states that the penalties for violation of the Tax Code “among others, includes the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding any public office…in cases of conviction of a crime penalized under the NIRC:” this provision is now a part of Section 253 of the NIRC. Section 78, in relation to Section 74, of the Tax Code penalizes any “material representation” in a COC (certificate of candidacy) that is “false” with the “cancellation, or denial of due course” of such COC. And Section 45 of the Tax Code states that violation thereof results, upon conviction by a final judgement, in “(payment to the BIR of) the deficiency taxes due with interest as the legal rate until fully paid and….(payment) of a fine of P2,000….. For failure to file income tax returns and…..a fine of P30,000 for (other) failure to file income tax returns, with surcharges.”
The facts alleged in the numerous complaints for the cancellation of Mr. Marcos’s COC and/or disqualification have not been disputed by his legal counsel. Under the provisions of the OEC a would-be candidate will have his COC cancelled or will be disqualified if he answers in the negative the COC question “Are you eligible for the office you seek to be elected to?” despite having been meted a conviction by final judgement. Mr. Marcos gave a false answer to that material question because he was in fact convicted by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) – a conviction affirmed by the Court of Appeals – of violations of PD 1994 and the Tax Code (NIRC). And under the above-stated provisions of the Tax Code, he can be penalized by cancellation of his COC for giving a false answer to a required “material representation.”
What the Second Division of the Comelec (Commission on Elections) has before it are undisputed facts; accordingly there is neither place nor need for the pricey Marcos lawyers’ efforts to interpret what President Marcos’s heir and namesake has done and hasn’t done. BBM was undisputedly convicted of a crime involving two tax laws, and he undisputedly lied in his COC about his eligibility to be elected President of the Philippines. There is no doubt about these.
Lawyers are officers of the Court and are expected to promote the enforcement of laws, not pervert them or render them ineffectual. If Mr. Marcos’s lawyers succeed in defeating the petitions for the cancellation of their client’s COC or his disqualification, that is exactly what they will have done.