The Commission on Election dismissed on Friday comments that it was condoning the non-filing of income tax returns after its first division denied petitions to disqualify presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos for the said offense, for which he was convicted in court.
The non-filing of ITRs is a punishable offense but is not tantamount to tax evasion, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez told reporters.
"The Comelec does not say that failure to file an ITR is okay because it’s not," he said.
"Failure to file an ITR by itself is not necessarily tax evasion. These are two different offenses punished differently by the law," he added.
Several groups, including one composed of martial law survivors, said Marcos should be disqualified from the presidential race as he was found guilty of failure to file income tax returns and pay income taxes from 1982 to 1985.
Jimenez made the clarification citing circulating comments on social media that the poll body was condoning non-filing of ITRs after the Comelec first division's ruling.
"What they’re doing is that they’re taking that particular line out of context. The decision does say that but the decision was saying that in the context of trying to explain the difference between a crime mala in se and a crime mala prohibita," Jimenez said.
In legal speak, mala in se means the act itself is evil while mala prohibita means the act is wrong because it is prohibited.
"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 election offense," Jimenez said.