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Parties on BBM disqualification given 15 days by SC to answer plea

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A resolution was issued by the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday giving the Commission on Elections (Comelec), both houses of Congress, and presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. 15 days to answer the plea of several human rights groups to stop the latter’s proclamation and to nullify his candidacy in the recent national and local elections.

The SC Public Information Office headed by lawyer Brian Keith Hosaka said the en banc resolution was released yesterday.

However, the Court, is still in recess until 10 June.

“Whereas, considering the allegations contained, the issues raised and the arguments adduced in the petition, without necessarily giving due course thereto, it is necessary and proper to require the respondents to comment on the petition and prayer for temporary restraining order within a period of 15 days from notice hereof,” the SC resolution stated.

“Now, therefore, respondents Comelec, Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos, Jr., Senate of the Philippines, and House of Representatives are hereby required to comment on the petitioner and prayer for temporary restraining order within a period of fifteen (15) days from notice hereof,” it added.

The resolution covers the petition filed by Fr. Christian Buenafe, Fides Lim, Ma. Edeliza Hernandez, Celia Lagman Sevilla, Roland Vibal, and Josephine Lascano representatives of varioun human rights groups namely the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), Kapatid-Families and Friends of Political Prisoners (Kapatid), Medical Action Group, Inc. (MAG), Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance Inc. (FIND), Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates Inc. (PAHRA) and Balay Rehabilitation Center Inc. (Balay).

The second petition filed by the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA) was not mentioned by the SC.

The group is also seeking the issuance of a TRO/writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin the Senate and the House from canvassing the votes cast in favor of Marcos and reverse the Comelec resolution dismissing their petition to disqualify Marcos on the ground of his previous criminal conviction.

CARMMA also asked the Court that in the event Marcos’ disqualification is granted, the candidate with the highest number of valid votes, in this case Vice President Leni Robredo, be allowed to assume as the next president.

The Buenafe et al petition, seeks to set aside the 17 January 2022 and 10 May 2022 resolutions of the Comelec which dismissed for lack of merit the petition they filed against Marcos Jr., for the denial or cancellation of his certificate of candidacy for the position of President, and denying his motion for partial reconsideration, respectively.

The petition is anchored on Marcos Jr. ‘s alleged failure to file income tax returns from 1982 to 1985 while he was a public official in Ilocos Norte.

They argued that the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion when it gave weight to Marcos’ material representation that he is eligible for the position of President and that he has not been convicted of a crime punished with the penalty of perpetual disqualification from public office.

They stressed that BBM has been a public officer for more than 25 years and that he was charged in eight criminal tax cases before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 105 for violating the National Internal Revenue code (NIRC) of 1977, on his failure to file income tax returns for 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985.

Marcos was sentenced by the Quezon City RTC to nine years imprisonment for failure to pay his income tax returns and to pay the taxes for the years 1982 until 1985.

The presumptive president then appealed the case before the Court of Appeals (CA).

The CA on 31 Oct. 1997, reportedly affirmed Marcos’ conviction beyond reasonable doubt for violating Section 45 of the NIRC related to his failure to file income tax returns for the taxable years 1982 to 1985.

It ordered Marcos to pay the BIR the deficiency income taxes due with interest at the legal rate until fully paid; to pay the fine of P2,000 for each charge in Criminal Cases Nos. Q-92-29213, Q-92-29212; and Q-92-29217 for the failure to file income tax returns for the years 1982, 1983, and 1984; and the fine of P30,000 in Criminal Case No. Q-91-24391 for failure to file income tax return for 1985 with surcharges.

Marcos appealed the appellate court’s decision before the SC, but later withdrew it.

In the Entry of Judgment, the CA also certified that its 31 October 1997 Decision was final and executory.

Marcos, Jr.’s conviction the petitioners said has attained finality after he failed to challenge CA ruling before the SC.

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