The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday, Feb. 11, defended the decision of its First Division junking the three petitions seeking to disqualify presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in the May 2022 polls.
In a virtual press briefing, Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez clarified that the poll body is not saying that failure to file an income tax return is not a punishable offense or that its okay.
“The Comelec does not say that failure to file an ITR is not a punishable offense. It is. The Comelec is not saying that failure to file an ITR is okay because it is not. Very important to emphasize, failure to file an ITR is not in itself necessarily tax evasion, these are two different offenses punished differently under the law,” he said.
“It’s wrong to say that the Comelec is saying that there is no offense in failure to file ITR because the Comelec said there is. But there was a point to be made about the difference between mala in se and mala prohibitum. That’s all it was and it’s just being taken out of context,” added Jimenez.
“This is a very important criminal law principle. What it says is that a crime mala in se is a crime that is by itself naturally wrong…But there are some offenses that are mala prohibitum, which means they are considered wrong under the law, only because a special law exists that criminalizes it,” he said.
Jimenez said there’s really nothing they can do with what some people are saying.
“They will say what they want to say even when they have the facts right in front of their faces. That’s perfectly fine,” he said.
But, Jimenez said, it has to be clear, it has to be on the record that Comelec is not saying that failure to file an ITR is not an offense.
The Comelec First Division junked the consolidated petitions of Akbayan, Bonifacio Ilagan and Abubakar Mangelen against Marcos Jr. for lack of merit.