Philippines group seeks to bar Marcos Jr from election

Son of late strongman Ferdinand Marcos is emerging as the frontrunner in May election.

Former Philippine senator Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr, son of former strongman Ferdinand Marcos, gestures after filing his candidacy for the country's 2022 presidential race on October 6, 2021 [File: Rouelle Umali/ Pool via AFP]

A group opposing the candidacy of the son of late The Philippines’s strongman Ferdinand Marcos for next year’s presidential race is asking the election commission to bar him from running because he has a conviction for tax evasion.

The group, called the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law, filed a petition for the disqualification of Ferdinand Marcos Jr on Wednesday.

Former congressman Satur Ocampo, one of the group’s convenors, said the petition, like one filed by another group, is grounded on Marcos’s more than 20-year-old conviction for tax evasion.

“Public officials who violate the internal revenue code are perpetually disqualified from holding any public office and participating in an election,” Ocampo, who fought the Marcos dictatorship, told the Reuters news agency, citing an article of the code. Marcos Jr, popularly known as Bongbong, has emerged as the frontrunner in the May election.

The strongman, who died in exile in 1989, ruled the Philippines for almost 20 years until his 1986 overthrow in the “people power” revolution.

His wife and children have repeatedly denied allegations that billions of dollars of state wealth were plundered during Marcos’s years in power, estimated in 1987 to be worth $10bn.

A trial court convicted Marcos Jr of tax evasion in 1995 for failing to file his income tax returns from 1982 to 1985. The conviction was upheld by an appeals court in 1997.

Marcos Jr has been elected governor, congressman, and in 2010, as a senator despite the conviction.

Ocampo said “this does not mean it can’t be raised any more”.

The election body has scheduled a preliminary conference for November 26 to consider the earlier disqualification complaint filed by a group representing political detainees, human rights and medical organisations against Marcos.

Marcos, 64, has said the petition “is without merit and has no legal basis”.

He announced on Tuesday that the daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed to be his vice presidential running mate, confirming weeks of speculation of an alliance between the two powerful families.

Source: Reuters