MANILA, Jan 31 (Mabuhay) — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday released Commissioner Rowena Guanzon’s separate opinion where she said she voted to disqualify Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. from the 2022 presidential race due to “moral turpitude.”

Guanzon, in her 24-page separate opinion, said this stemmed from Marcos’ non-filing of income tax returns from 1982 to 1985.

She explained that Marcos was not sentenced by final judgment to a penalty of imprisonment of more than 18 months and is not perpetually disqualified from running for public office.

Guanzon, who will retire on February 2, noted that the Court of Appeal’s (CA) decision “never meted” the penalty of three years of imprisonment against Marcos contrary to the conviction rendered by the Quezon City Regional trial Court for violations of Section 45 and 50 of the 1977 National Internal Revenue Code.

The CA decision, she added, also did not impose the penalty of perpetual disqualification against Marcos.

Hence, the Comelec is “unable to find any legal basis to allow the imposition” of the said penalty against the presidential aspirant.

“The Commission cannot read into the decision of the Court of Appeals something that is clearly not there. It is beyond the purview of this Commission’s constitutional mandate and duty to alter the dispositive portion of the CA Decision rendered more than two decades ago,” Guanzon said.

She added that the legal remedy on this decision is “elsewhere and lies not with the Commission” if the CA made a “grievous error” in its decision or interpretation and application of the law.

However, Guanzon said that Marcos’ “non-filing of Income Tax Returns for the years 1982 to 1985 constitutes moral turpitude.”

Under Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC), “[A]ny person who has been declared by competent authority insane or incompetent, or has been sentenced by final judgment for subversion, insurrection, rebellion or for any offense for which he has been sentenced to a penalty of more than eighteen months or for a crime involving moral turpitude, shall be disqualified to be a candidate and to hold any office, unless he has been given plenary pardon or granted amnesty.”

“This disqualifications to be a candidate herein provided shall be deemed removed upon the declaration by competent authority that said insanity or incompetence had been removed or after the expiration of a period of five years from his service of sentence, unless within the same period he again becomes disqualified,” Section 12 of OEC further states.

But according to Guanzon, “After an assiduous analysis of the arguments of the parties and the evidence on record, I find that Respondent’s repeated and persistent non-filing of income tax returns in 1982, 1983, 1984, and 1985, which resulted in his conviction, constitutes an offense involving moral turpitude.”

Guanzon authorized Comelec to release the copy of her separate opinion on Marcos’ case,  days after she accused fellow Commissioner Aimee Ferolino of deliberately delaying the promulgation of the ruling so that her — Guanzon’s — vote will not be counted.

The ponente of the ruling, Ferolino, in response, accused Guanzon of trying to influence the case. (MNS)

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