Presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos was not convicted of tax evasion as alleged in the petition calling for the cancellation of his candidacy in the 2022 elections, his spokesman said Thursday.
The only son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was only found guilty of failing to file his income tax returns, which is not tantamount to tax evasion, his spokesperson Vic Rodriguez said.
"Ang nature kasi ng tax case is civil in nature but with penal provision or penal clause. Kaya nga kung yan ang kasong binabandera nila, ang naging hatol diyan ay magbayad lang ng fine. Walang imprisonment," Rodriguez told CNN Philippines in an interview.
"Hindi siya nahatulan sa kasong tax evasion. Maling-mali rin yung sinasabing siya ay tax evader. Ang naging hatol lang diyan ay hindi nakapag-file ng income tax return," he said.
Petitioners representing representing political detainees, human rights and medical organizations urged the Commission on Elections to cancel Marcos' certificate of candidacy for president citing his conviction for tax evasion in the 1990s.
They alleged that Marcos was ineligible to run for any public office as a Quezon City court in 1995 found him guilty of failure to file income tax returns from 1982 to 1985.
Rodriguez said non-filing of income tax returns doesn't necessarily mean that a person didn't file his taxes and be considered a tax evader.
"Every time you receive your salary, hindi ba withheld na yung iyong tax due from source? Hindi ikaw ang nagkakaltas ng iyong buwis na dapat i-remit sa gobyerno. Yan ay trabaho ng iyong kumpanya," he said.
"Ganun din sa kaso ni presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos. Basta kapag natanggap niya yung kanyang sahod, bawas na doon yung withholding tax," he added.
Rodriguez recognized the importance of filing of ITRs, but people should look at the whole context of the issue.
"Remember nung 1986, bumagsak ang gobyerno. Paano makakapag-file, paano niya maico-correct yung kulang niyang ITR?" he said, referring to the year after the Marcoses fled the Philippines after the first People Power Revolution.
Rodriguez saidMarcos didn't commit a crime of "moral turpitude," as also claimed by the petitioners.
"Doon sa binibintang nilang propaganda, ang sinasabi ay filing of ITR kaya nauwi lang ito sa pagbabayad ng penalty. Walang sinasabing moral turpitude. This is by any stretch of imagination ay talagang napakahinang kaso," he said.
Rodriguez said Marcos has yet to formally receive a copy of the petition , but was ready to respond to it. Marcos also said the complaint would not hinder him from pushing through with his presidential bid.
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