Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who is aspiring to become president in 2022, has not settled the deficiency taxes and penalties that the Court of Appeals ordered him in 1997 to pay for his failure to file his income tax returns (ITRs) from 1982 to 1985, a certification from the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QC RTC) showed.
The 24-year-old tax case has been the basis cited by some groups who have petitioned the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to cancel Marcos Jr.’s certificate of candidacy for president in next year’s elections.
A certification from the QC RTC, released on Dec. 3, revealed that Marcos Jr. continues to defy the CA that found him “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” for violation of the Internal Revenue Code over his failure to file his ITRs and ordered him to pay his deficiency taxes to the Bureau of Internal Revenue and imposed on him a fine of P36,000 plus surcharges as penalty.
The petitioners, who earlier sought the cancellation of Marcos’ COC for next year’s presidential elections, acquired a copy of the certification from Branch 105 of the QC RTC which said “there is no record on file of [the] compliance of payment or satisfaction” of the 1997 CA decision.
“The certification simply cements what we have already said in the petition. [Marcos’] continuing evasion of the sentence, coupled with his repeated misrepresentation of his eligibility all those times he ran for public office, is evidence of his intent to deceive the electorate and not to abide by the laws he aspires to execute,” Theodore “Ted” Te, the petitioners’ counsel, said in a statement sent to the media.
Sought to comment on the development, former Supreme Court associate justice Antonio Carpio said, “If BBM has not paid all the amounts he was ordered to pay in the final CA decision, then he has not served his sentence … which means that his disqualification continues, because the disqualification is removed only after 5 years from service of sentence.”
The petition filed on Nov. 2 argues that Marcos committed “false material representation” for declaring in his COC that he has never been found liable of an offense that carries a penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding public office. He did not mention his 1997 conviction.
The petitioners cited Section 253 of the amended National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) which imposes dismissal and perpetual disqualification from public office on any public officer who will be found guilty of a crime under the tax code.
The QC RTC document contradicts what was declared in the answer-in-intervention filed on Nov. 22 by three members of Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP), the political party under which Marcos Jr. is running for president.
PFP, in its answer, said its presidential standard-bearer already paid the fine in December 2001.
Carpio, who has extensively written about Marcos’ tax case in his newspaper columns, said PFP’s claim “has no evidentiary value” because it is “not supported by any proof of payment.”
Besides, he said, the claim of payment “was not made by BBM but by a third party, the counsel of PFP.”
The retired magistrate further explained: “The Rules of Court require the material averments of the petition to cancel COC must be denied specifically by the defendant himself (BBM), not by any third person; otherwise, the material averments are deemed admitted. In his Answer, BBM did not deny the second ground – that he is perpetually disqualified under Section 253 of the Tax Code.”
VERA Files had contacted the Marcos camp for its statement on the certification of non-compliance with the court order, but it has yet to respond.
The Marcos camp has not issued any statement categorically saying that he had paid the deficiency taxes and fine. Instead, in a Nov. 29 press release on its answer to the pending petition for the cancellation of Marcos’ COC, his camp said the former senator is qualified to run for the country’s top post because he “had previously been elected to several elective positions in government.”
The camp also asserted that Marcos’ 1997 conviction is not over a crime involving moral turpitude — a ground for an election candidate’s disqualification under Sec. 12 of the Omnibus Election Code.
So far, six petitions have been filed with the Comelec challenging Marcos’ candidacy in next year’s polls. Three of the petitions are seeking the cancellation of his COC, two want him disqualified from the presidential race, and another asks the poll body to declare him a nuisance candidate.