NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 16 Feb) – A convicted felon who is out of jail by quirk circumstances is running towards the Palace along the Pasig.
This is made possible because the COMELEC’s First Division did not remove Ferdinand Marcos Jr. from the 2022 presidential derby despite the mounting evidences to warrant his disqualification.
Commissioner Aimee Ferolino, who wrote the decision favoring Marcos Jr. ruled that Marcos Jr. has committed no crime. She claimed that a non-filing of an income tax return (ITR) does not constitute a crime because there is no law against it that is being violated.
Former Commissioner Rowena Guanzon was quick to retort outside COMELEC, arguing that if there was no crime committed by Marcos Jr., why was he convicted by the Regional Trial Court?
Ferolino is hair-splitting. The filing of ITR is a mandatory requirement consonance with the payment of an annual income, without which one cannot pay said tax. And non-payment of an income tax is a criminal offense.
Marcos Jr. had repeatedly not filed his ITR and, therefore, has, in no way, of paying his income taxes and, in fact, never had in the entire period of his incumbency as governor of Ilocos Norte. No matter the ruling of Ferolino and how the term is avoided, Marcos Jr. was, for all intents and purposes, a tax delinquent – an inveterate tax evader, and was rightly convicted by the Regional Court and meted the appropriate punishment of imprisonment and fines for the offense.
Moreover, Marcos Jr.’s conviction was affirmed by the Court of Appeals minus the punishment of imprisonment for unknown reason; he was only ordered to pay the fines. Yet, per records, even that ultra-lenient punishment was not complied with by this lying namesake of the corrupt dictator. Yet, Ferolino did not consider the sum of his gross deceiving behavior a crime of moral turpitude.
For a quarter of a century now since his conviction, Marcos Jr. has not paid his crimes against the people of the Philippines and, therefore, has remained a criminal on the loose.
Ferolino’s decision overturned, in effect, the ruling of the RTC and the CA on the crime of Marcos Jr. and his conviction for the same, which is an interesting issue for the Supreme Court (SC) to resolve. It is incumbent for the COMELEC to act with dispatch on the case to serve justice. It will benefit the parties if it does whatever its decision might be, as it would allow any of them to appeal the decision to the SC.
But would the COMELEC render its verdict soon? It ought to. A further delay would further erode its credibility, so much so that a perception is snowballing that its moves are being orchestrated shrewdly by someone powerful to forge the ultimate outcome of the elections in his favor.
Finally, despite his revisionist squid tactics, Marcos Jr. cannot change the fact that he is not a law-abiding citizen, no different from his corrupt dictator father, who plundered the country for two decades. For not paying his taxes and fines, he has, in effect, stolen from the government. Above that, he betrayed the government, when as governor of Ilocos Norte, he wantonly violated his oath “to obey the laws, legal orders and decrees promulgated by the duly constituted authorities of the Republic of the Philippines.” And yet this law breaker, this convicted felon, has the gumption to covet the highest leadership position of the land.
Would you allow this pachyderm to become the next President of the Republic of the Philippines?
Filipino, Wake up!
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines.)