Filipino group seeks to block Marcos from presidency over tax evasion

  • The code prohibits any person convicted of tax offenses from exercising their functions
  • Marcos was a legislator, governor, senator
  • The profile of the family helped by the political network
  • Marcos dismissed a similar complaint as unfounded

MANILA, Nov. 17 (Reuters) – The son of the late Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos, an early candidate in the May election, faces a second petition to exclude him from the presidential race, centered on a conviction for fraud tax almost three decades ago.

The complaint, lodged with the electoral commission on Wednesday by a group called Campaign Against Return of the Marcos and Martial Law, argued that the sentence should have barred Ferdinand Marcos Jr from holding or running for office for life.

He was convicted in 1995 of failing to file income tax returns from 1982 to 1985 while he was governor of Ilocos Norte province, a verdict upheld two years later by an appeals court.

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“He has continuously neglected his sentence and disrespected the rule of law by coming forward and running for office knowing in fact that he is a convicted felon,” attorney Howard Calleja told reporters after the filing.

Marcos’ spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The tax code stipulates that a public official convicted of a tax offense will be banned for life from holding public office, voting and participating in any election.

Since his conviction, however, Marcos has been elected governor, congressman and senator and unsuccessfully ran for vice-president.

The Marcos family is one of the most famous dynasties in the Philippines and despite its disgrace after a 1986 “people’s power” revolution, it has retained its wealth and powerful and far-reaching ties.

Sara Duterte-Carpio, the president’s popular daughter, will be Marcos’ running mate.

Antonio La Viña, professor of law and politics at Ateneo de Manila University, said election officials would generally only disqualify an excluded candidate if a complaint was filed first.

“People will only complain if you are winnable,” he said, adding that the case against Marcos could go both ways.

When asked if Marcos had ever faced a case of disqualification, election commission spokesman James Jimenez replied: “I don’t remember, no.”

Marcos, whose father ruled the Philippines for nearly two decades, much of that harsh era of martial law, led an opinion poll conducted last month on preferred presidential candidates.

The electoral body scheduled a preliminary conference for November 26 on a previous exclusion complaint against Marcos filed by a group representing political detainees, human rights organizations and medical organizations, which said the petition ” is without foundation and without legal basis “.

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Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan, Martin Petty

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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