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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Marcos Jr.’s disqualification should be a foregone conclusion

/ 04:02 AM December 13, 2021

The public is getting confused about the current cases for disqualification from public office against Bongbong Marcos Jr., who has held various positions in government in the past, most recently as senator. No one even raised a squeak about his vice presidential bid in 2016.

Wasn’t the possibility of his becoming president there all along? Had Marcos Jr. won the vice presidency, wasn’t his ascension to the presidency almost a sure thing in light of President Duterte saying at one point that he would have stepped down if Marcos Jr. were the one to succeed him? So, if the disqualification cases against him are just “politics” and nothing more, voters may not care at all about such cases. There’s a good chance that Marcos Jr. will make it back to Malacañang given the latest poll surveys showing him the top choice by voters.

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But voters must understand that Mr. Duterte was lying about his fondness for Marcos Jr., or, as his minions would rather say, “joke lang ’yun”! No one really believed he would give up the limelight during his term in favor of Marcos Jr., or anyone else for that matter. In fact, he loved it so much that he plans to continue to bask in it—by now gunning for a seat among 24 senators, much to everyone’s surprise.

The public should stop being confused. It should be clear by now that per the plain language of the law, Marcos Jr. is “perpetually disqualified from holding any public office.” The applicable law is Presidential Decree No. 1158 (National Tax Code of 1977), which punishes violation of any provision thereof by imprisonment and fine, including “perpetual disqualification from public office.”

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It’s true that, under a later law, the Omnibus Election Code, a candidate can be disqualified only if he has been convicted of a crime “involving moral turpitude.” So, does conviction for a crime under the Tax Code involve moral turpitude? The Supreme Court said no, and therein lies the problem. But the path out of that conundrum is not really that hard to find: The Election Code requires final conviction plus moral turpitude for disqualification, while the Tax Code requires only final conviction (period!) for disqualification.

In fine, the Election Code ordains disqualification only if the conviction is for a crime involving moral turpitude under penal statutes OTHER THAN THE TAX CODE. Marcos Jr. was convicted under the latter. His disqualification should be a foregone conclusion. And that, by itself, should void his certificate of candidacy where he lied about his eligibility for public office.

Reminder to us all: Being confused about something that is clear as daylight is no excuse to vote blindly.

HENRICO H. LACEDA
[email protected]

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TAGS: #VotePH2022, 2022 presidential race, Bongbong Marcos disquallification, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, Henrico H. Laceda, Letters to the Editor
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