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Philippines group seeks to bar Marcos from presidency over tax evasion

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By Reuters

<div> <p>By Karen Lema</p> <p><span class="caps">MANILA</span> – The son of late Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos, an early frontrunner for the May election, is facing a second petition seeking to bar him from the presidential race, centred on a tax evasion conviction nearly three decades ago. </p> <p>The complaint, filed on Wednesday at the election commission by a group called the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law, argued the conviction should have perpetually disqualified Ferdinand Marcos Jr from holding or running for office. </p> <p>He was found guilty in 1995 of failing to file income tax returns from 1982 to 1985 while governor of Ilocos Norte province, a verdict upheld two years later by an appeals court. </p> <p>“He has continuously neglected his penalty and disrespected the rule of law by running and filing his candidacy knowing in fact that he is a convicted criminal,” lawyer Howard Calleja told reporters after the filing. </p> <p>Marcos’s spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.</p> <p>The internal revenue code states that a public officer convicted of a tax crime will be barred for life from holding public office, voting and participating in any election.</p> <p>Since his conviction, however, Marcos has been elected governor, congressman and senator and ran unsuccessfully for the vice presidency.</p> <p>The Marcos family is one of the most famous dynasties in the Philippines and despite its fall from grace after a 1986 “people power” revolution, it has retained its wealth and far-reaching and powerful connections. </p> <p>Sara Duterte-Carpio, the president’s popular daughter, will be the running mate of Marcos. </p> <p>Antonio La Viña, a law and politics professor at the Ateneo de Manila University, said election authorities would typically only disqualify a barred candidate if a complaint is made first. </p> <p>“People will only complain if you are winnable,” he said, adding the case against Marcos could go either way.</p> <p>Asked if Marcos had ever faced a disqualification case, election commission spokesperson James Jimenez said: “Not that I can recall, no.”</p> <p>Marcos, whose father ruled the Philippines for almost two decades, much of that a harsh era of martial law, led an opinion poll conducted last month on preferred presidential candidates.</p> <p>The poll body has scheduled a preliminary conference for Nov. 26 on an earlier disqualification complaint against Marcos filed by a group representing political detainees, human rights and medical organisations, who has said that petition “is without merit and has no legal basis”. </p> <p/> </div>