From RTC to SC: Bongbong Marcos’ tax cases

Published December 4, 2021, 8:33 PM

by Rey Panaligan 

The Supreme Court (SC), on Aug. 8, 2001, affirmed the Oct. 31, 1997 Court of Appeals (CA) decision that modified the July 27, 1995 ruling of the Quezon City regional trial court (RTC) which found former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. guilty of eight counts of violations of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) of 1977.

Supreme Court (SC)

As modified by the CA, Marcos was acquitted of violations of Section 50 of the NIRC for non-payment of deficiency taxes for taxable years 1982 to 1985 as it reversed and nullified the prison terms imposed on Marcos by the RTC.

However, the CA found Marcos guilty of violation of Section 45 of NIRC for failure to file income tax returns for taxable years 1982 to 1985, and ordered him “to pay the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) the deficiency income tax due with interest at the legal rate until fully paid.”

He was also ordered by the CA to pay a fine of P2,000 in each of the three charges for failure to file income tax returns for the years 1982, 1983 and 1984; and a fine of P30,000 for failure to file income tax return for 1985.

Marcos would have wanted to challenge the CA decision before the SC as he filed a motion for extension of time to file a petition. But he withdrew his appeal.

The SC, in a resolution issued on Aug. 8, 2001 granted Marcos’ withdrawal of his appeal as the High Court, in effect, affirmed the CA’s 1997 decision.

Entry of judgment – an entry or notation in the SC’s judgment book that a decision on the case has become final and executory – was issued on Aug. 31, 2001.

Records showed that on Dec. 27, 2001, Marcos paid the BIR the fines and penalties in line with the CA’s decision.

Marcos was elected senator in 2010, a position he held until 2016. He started his political career in 1980 when he became vice governor of his home province of Ilocos Norte. In 1983, he served as the province’s governor.

In 1992, Marcos was elected member of Congress and represented Ilocos Norte’s 2nd congressional district until 1995. In 1998, he was again elected Ilocos Norte governor and thereafter, after nine years, was elected anew as member of House of Representatives until 2010 when he was elected member of Senate.

Marcos tried to become the country’s vice president in 2016 but lost in the highly-contested election which even reached the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) that ruled against his protest.

He then filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for the 2022 Presidential election as standard bearer of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas.

But several individuals filed a petition with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to cancel or deny Marcos’ COC for President for alleged false material representation.

“Specifically, Marcos falsified his Certificate of Candidacy when he claimed that he was eligible to be a candidate for President of the Philippines in the 2022 national elections when in fact he is disqualified from doing so,” they said in a statement.

They said: “Marcos was convicted by the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City in a July 27, 1995 Decision for his multiple failures to file income tax returns. This conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeals and no longer appealed to the Supreme Court, thereby becoming a final and unappealable conviction. Having been convicted by final judgment of a violation of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC), Marcos is perpetually disqualified from holding any public office, to vote, and to participate in any election as mandated under the NIRC.”

Marcos’s camp said they will address the issue before the Comelec but pointed out that the “burden of proving the existence of disqualification” rests on those who challenged it.

In the meantime, Marcos lawyers said that “there is no false material representation contained in Marcos’ certificate of candidacy” as he “is eligible to run for president and is not perpetually disqualified from holding a public office.”

The lawyers pointed out that Section 252 of the NIRC which provides penalty of disqualification became effective only on Jan. 1, 1986.

“Therefore, the penalty of perpetual disqualification cannot be applied for the convictions on the taxable years 1982-1984. The perpetual disqualification is not applicable because at the time of conviction, Marcos was not a public officer but a private citizen,” they said.

They pointed out: “Marcos was allowed to repeatedly run for public office which affirms the fact that he was never adjudged to be perpetually disqualified. Marcos is not disqualified to be a Presidential candidate under Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code.”

They stressed: “Marcos has not been sentenced by final judgment for a crime involving moral turpitude. The offense of failure to file returns is not a crime involving moral turpitude.”

They said the SC has ruled that “failure to file returns is not a crime involving moral turpitude.”

“Even assuming that the offense of failure to file returns is a crime involving moral turpitude, Marcos is still not disqualified to be a Presidential candidate under Section 12 of the OEC. The disqualification to be a candidate was automatically removed upon expiration of five years from the payment of fine. Marcos was subsequently allowed to run for public office several times. Contrary to petitioners’ misrepresentation, the penalty imposable is not both fine and imprisonment but fine or imprisonment,” they also said.

Thus, the lawyers stressed: “Marcos is undeniably eligible to run for public office. Therefore, there is no deliberate intent to mislead, misinform, and deceive the electorate.”

“Let the people decide who will be the next President,” they added.