“As elections draw near, we can expect more discussions, debates, and issues to surface.”
Just this week, the Commission on Elections Second Division released its decision dismissing the petition which urged Comelec to cancel the certificate of candidacy of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.
In its decision penned by Commissioner Socorro Inting, Comelec ruled that there was no false material representation in the filing of Marcos’ COC for President in the coming 2022 elections. The division also ruled that the penalty of perpetual disqualification from Presidential Decree No. 1994 does not apply to Marcos, Jr.
I have to agree with the Comelec. While indeed, Bongbong was convicted a few decades ago, the allegations and grounds cited in the petitions are not enough bases to disqualify him. The decision made by the Court of Appeals that is being questioned before COMELEC states that he was convicted for failure to file tax returns. While failure to file a tax return is a violation of the 1977 National Internal Revenue Code, this did not entail failure to pay taxes. Bongbong did make payments of his taxes in the years cited by the petitioners.
Recall that in December last year, Marcos’s camp showed certification from the Bureau of Internal Revenue that it received payments for the years 1982, 1983, 1984, and 1985. Clearly, the claims of non-payment are without merit.
Also, it bears noting that Bongbong has won a Senate seat in 2010 and, prior to this, a Congressional seat in 2007 as Representative of the Second District of Ilocos Norte. Years before, he had also served as governor for two terms. Hence, the political record of Marcos, Jr. is clear and indisputable. It seems that it is too late in the day to say otherwise.
We give credit to COMELEC for including Marcos in the printing of official ballots. While we await the decisions for the other disqualification cases, I am confident that COMELEC will see past the political agenda behind these and rule on the cases fair and square. The rule of law and right to due process must always be upheld.
At the end of the day, Marcos, Jr. has rectified the alleged violations he made. He has exhibited his qualifications as a public officer when he won the elections several times after the finality of his tax cases. Without a clear case of disqualification, his right to run for public office remains unbridled.
As elections draw near, we can expect more discussions, debates, and issues to surface. Hence, it will be useful to keep an attentive eye, a listening ear, and a discerning mind for the months to come until election day. As I always say, I hope the people are more circumspect in choosing and electing the next leaders who will usher the country towards recovery. Our country needs leaders who are proven competent and genuinely dedicated to public service in both the local and national arena.