The Manila Times
NO HOLDS BARRED
Rep. Edcel C. Lagman’s
Weekly Thursday Column
(Last of two parts)
FROM the deceptive verbiage and off-tangent jurisprudential citations of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in his memorandum, the following additional arguments are contrived in his defense:
a. Sec. 286(c) of the 1977 National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) on "perpetual disqualification" is not ipso facto imposed upon the mere fact of conviction.
Marcos Jr. claims that the accessory penalty of "perpetual disqualification" cannot apply to him because the Court of Appeals did not explicitly impose it in convicting him for failure to file his income tax returns (ITRs). He further asserted that the automatic imposition of an accessory penalty under Art. 73 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) has no suppletory application to special penal statutes like the NIRC. Sec. 73 of the RPC provides:
ARTICLE 73. Presumption in Regard to the Imposition of Accessory Penalties. — Whenever the courts shall impose a penalty which, by provision of law, carries with it other penalties, according to the provisions of Articles 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, and 45 of this Code, it must be understood that the accessory penalties are also imposed upon the convict. (Emphasis supplied).
There is no rhyme nor reason why the automatic imposition of an accessory penalty under Art. 73 of the RPC should not apply to Sec. 286 (c) of the 1977 NIRC. Marcos Jr. purposely omitted to cite Art. 10 of the RPC, which unequivocally provides: "This Code should be supplementary to such laws (special penal statutes) unless the latter should specifically provide the contrary." (Emphasis supplied.)
Verily, the RPC is suppletory to the imposition of accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification on tax offenses under the NIRC which does not negate the supplementary application of the RPC. Thus, the accessory penalty of "perpetual disqualification from holding public office" on any person convicted of a crime under the NIRC attaches to the principal penalty (imprisonment or fine or both) and is automatically imposed by operation of law.
The citation of Marcos Jr. of Laurel v. Abrogar and People v. Simon is utterly irrelevant and intentionally misleading. These two cases absolutely do not involve the application and imposition of accessory penalties.
b. The election of Marcos Jr. as governor, representative and senator obliterated the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification.
It is absurd for Marcos Jr. to claim that his having been elected governor, representative and senator obliterated his perpetual disqualification. The disqualification is imprescriptible, as it is perpetual, and can be invoked at any time. If the purpose of Marcos Jr. is to avail of the doctrine of condonation by election, this precept has been abandoned by the Supreme Court, and does not apply to criminal cases. Moreover, there can be no estoppel against the State. Consequently, no previous election to public office can bar any subsequent enforcement of the continuing perpetual disqualification of Marcos Jr. Additionally, his serial misrepresentation of eligibility is even aggravating, not a condonation, of his disqualification.
c. Marcos Jr. as a "pure compensation earner" as vice governor and governor of Ilocos Norte, was exempt from filing his ITRs which was the obligation of the provincial government.
This defense was pleaded by Marcos Jr. before the Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals, and was judicially and judiciously rejected with finality. It is unavailing after his final conviction of precisely failing to file his ITRs. Moreover, under the then NIRC and even in the present tax code, the exception from filing an ITR by a "compensation earner" is not absolute and cannot be presumed, but must be proved, because a taxpayer may have other employers or sources of income for which he is obligated to file his ITR. For instance, the Court of Appeals found, on submission of Marcos Jr. himself, that all of his income as a provincial elected official was deposited in a bank for grant of scholarships. In other words, he had other sources of income to maintain his expensive lifestyle, which required the filing of his ITR.
d. The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law extinguished Marcos Jr.'s criminal liability for failure to file his ITRs.
The Train Law does not give Marcos Jr. any relief. Only those who derive compensation from a single employer are exempt from filing an ITR. Those having more than one employer or other sources of income are still obligated to file their ITR. Marcos Jr. cannot deny under oath that starting early 1985 he was the chairman of the board of directors of the Philippine Communications Satellite Corp., or Philcomsat, for which he received enormous salaries and emoluments reportedly in thousands of US dollars. Consequently, he was not exempt from filing his ITR, both under the 1977 NIRC and the Train Law.
e. Marcos Jr.'s CoC cancellation will deprive Filipinos of a winning presidential candidate as shown by the surveys.
Surveys are not cast in stone. Since the May 2022 presidential election is still four months away, surveys can eventually change as shown by the dwindling lead of then vice-presidential candidate Marcos Jr. in 2016 over his closest rival, Leni Robredo, who eventually won. The final survey is reckoned on election day itself when the sovereign voters cast their vote.
f. The Fr. Buenafe petition co-mingled causes of action which is a fatal procedural infirmity.
The petition has only a single cause of action — the denial of due course or cancellation of Marcos Jr.'s CoC for false material representation of his eligibility. His final conviction under the tax code and/or that such conviction is of a crime involving moral turpitude are only alternative reasons supporting the single cause of action. No procedural infraction was committed. Since the Fr. Buenafe petition can be granted on the basis of Marcos Jr.'s ineligibility due to his conviction under the NIRC, it is unnecessary to resolve the alternative issue of whether his tax offense is a crime involving moral turpitude making him also ineligible under the Omnibus Election Code.
The feeble defense of Marcos Jr. is fatal. His CoC must be canceled. The electorate must be spared from the aberration of an ineligible pretender