PROMDI Party presidential candidate Senator Manny Pacquiao has no qualms about the decision of the a Commission on Elections (Comelec ) panel to junk the disqualification case against rival former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., saying it did not surprise him.
Asked by the media for comment on the ruling, Pacquiao said: “We were not surprised by the decision of the Comelec.”
“This has no effect in our campaign to convince our people that the Philippines needs a leader who will not cheat and steal and one who truly loves our people,” he said.
“Ma-Dq man siya o hindi walang magbabago sa ating plano na ipaglaban ang mga mahihirap (Whether or not he will be disqualified has no bearing on our plan to fight for the poor),” stated the world-renowned Filipino sportsman.
On Thursday, Feb. 10, the Comelec First Division dismissed the consolidated disqualification petitions filed against Marcos for “lack of merit”.
Among those included in the ruling were petitions filed by Bonifacio Ilagan, Akbayan Party-list and Commissioner Abubakar Mangelen of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos.
The First Division ruled that Marcos cannot be barred from running in the 2022 elections because the law that imposes the penalty of perpetual disqualification from seeking an elective office for non-filing of income tax returns came into effect only on January 1986.
Marcos was found guilty of violating the National Internal Revenue Code of 1977 for failing to file income tax returns from 1982 to 1985.
However, before retiring from the Comelec, former Commissioner Rowena Guanzon revealed she voted to disqualify the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) standard-bearer.
Guanzon disclosed that as early as Jan. 17, she already told the two other members of the First Division that she found "moral turpitude" as a reason for her decision to grant the petitions.
She later accused Commissioner Aimee Ferolino, the ponente in the case, of being influenced by a senator to delay the release of the resolution so that her contrary opinion will no longer be included in the decision because of her retirement.
Ferolino and Commissioner Marlon Casquejo ruled that failure to file tax returns cannot be considered as “inherently immoral”, as Guanzon insisted.
“The failure to file tax returns is not inherently wrong in the absence of a law punishing it. The said omission became punishable only through the enacted of the Tax Code,” the Comelec official stated.