Thu. May 26th, 2022
Exposed for his moral bankruptcy in the South China Seas debates, former Associate Justice Antonio Carpio is experimenting on intellectual bankruptcy through his feeble understanding of election laws and the Constitution, promoting disqualification theories using improvised jurisprudence. (Cartoons by Steven Pabalinas, Manila Times and Glenn Tolo, Daily Tribune)

We learn nothing from the needless argument over Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s eligibility to run for president if the nation does not assign responsibility for starting this confutation, and identify the people who conjured it from thin air.

It is logical, as we say, to give credit where it is due.

It is equally sound to express disapproval when people capriciously waste our time and our public life on false controversies and pointless arguments.

The understandable elation of many over the ruling by the Commission on Elections on the Marcos disqualification petitions should not induce forgetfulness of the authorship of the controversy and the dubious reasons for it.

The disqualification controversy was plainly designed to inject confusion and uncertainty in the 2022 election, which Marcos was threatening to turn into a no contest. By putting up an obstacle to the Marcos candidacy, the disqualification litigation sought to shake up the rising feeling of inevitability about a second Marcos presidency.

Comelec junks cases vs Marcos

The Comelec decision on the disqualification petitions scuttled the forlorn hope that Marcos could be stopped by preventing him from running.

The elections body dismissed all disqualification cases filed against him.

In a resolution penned by Commissioner Aimee Ferolino of the First Division and concurred in by Commissioner Marlon Casquejo, the poll body dismissed the three remaining petitions for lack of merit.

“We recognize that the resolution of the instant case is of paramount importance, considering that the 2022 [national and local elections] is fast approaching,” it said. “However, deprivation of one’s right to be voted for in any election should not be exercised whimsically and capriciously, lest we will be preventing qualified candidates from pursuing a position in public office.”

As to whether the failure to file tax returns is a crime involving moral turpitude, the poll body cited the ruling of the Supreme Court in the case Republic of the Philippines v Ferdinand R. Marcos II and Imelda R. Marcos (GR 180363) wherein the high tribunal ruled that failure to file a tax return is not a crime involving moral turpitude.

Another Carpio blooper raising BBM’s ratings in the polls. Most voters especially the young are unattracted to black propaganda in the form of lies and false assumptions illustrated in this meme by no less than the Philippines Daily Inquirer. The millennials think 30 years of absolute power in the hands of the yellows have been more than enough to prosecute this issue if it were any true.

“Therefore, since respondent [Marcos] has appealed his conviction relating to four violations of Section 45 of the NIRC (National Internal Revenue Code), the same should not serve as a basis to disqualify him to be appointed as an executor of the will of his father. More importantly, even assuming that his conviction is later on affirmed, the same is still insufficient to disqualify him as the failure to file an income tax return is not a crime involving moral turpitude,” the high court said.

Earlier in January, the Comelec’s Second Division dismissed the petition seeking the cancellation of Marcos’ certificate of candidacy (CoC).

The commission ruled that there was no misrepresentation committed by the former senator. “Unmistakably, there is no intention on the part of respondent to deceive the electorate as to his qualifications for public office,” it said.

Accountability in public life

The motley group of people that filed the petitions for Marcos’ disqualification probably had no thought of filing cases until they read the series of columns by retired Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio in the Philippine Daily Inquirer in October last year.

Carpio spelled out the case and arguments for the disqualification case against Marcos.

On his urging and guidance, various groups filed at the Comelec their respective disqualification petitions. Each petition recited the words of Carpio in his articles.

But when the petitions were finally heard by the Comelec, ex-justice Carpio scampered away and publicly refused to be party to the petition which he had instigated.

Leni Robredo is the presidential candidate of Carpio’s 1Sambayan.

This evinced Carpio’s lack of confidence in the case that he invented against BBM. He knew the fatuity of this caper because he helped write GR 180363, which rendered hollow the charge of moral turpitude against Marcos.

Moral turpitude

On November 9 last year, I wrote a column on the moral turpitude charge, “Moral turpitude vs intellectual bankruptcy in Marcos disqualification case.”

I was troubled by the generally hollow response to the charges aired and the credence lent to Carpio’s ideas because of his time in the high court.

Many didn’t see the patent political motivation behind the petitions and Carpio’s sinister role in framing them. I wrote then:

“The petition is designed to disrupt the campaign and take away the bloom off the rose of BBM’s candidacy and bring down his favorability ratings.

“Serious analysts and observers of this election cycle naturally expect BBM to respond effectively to this new tactic of his political opponents. They figure this indicates how he will tackle thorny problems during his presidency.”

“The image of a campaign that knows what it is doing in the face of vicious attacks is vital.

“On this moral turpitude and disqualification charge, a good number of experts and opinion leaders, including law school deans, have come out publicly to declare that this case has no substance and is certain to collapse. There is absolutely no chance that the petition will prosper.

“Carpio, the unrequited justice-turned-politician (he was bypassed by three presidents in his bid to become chief justice and seeks to become kingmaker in the 2022 elections), is playing partisan politics and is now resorting to trickery in deceiving the nation with his tortured depiction of Bongbong Marcos as a tax evader guilty of moral turpitude, therefore disqualified to run for president in the 2022 election.

“By pasting BBM with the still undefined and nebulous offense of moral turpitude, he seeks to bathe the Marcos name in odium so voters will turn away from BBM.

“Those of us who know English better than Carpio (because the language is our principal tool for communication and because we studied it formally in school), will dismiss outright moral turpitude as legalese designed to deceive and confuse.

“Legalese, according to Merriam-Webster, is the specialized language of the legal profession, which lawyers employ to delude people in the writing of contracts and other documents. It separates itself from plain talk and is also called legal jargon.”

READ: Moral turpitude vs intellectual bankruptcy in Marcos disqualification case

Moral turpitude is just one example of legalese that is obscure not only to the general public, but even to lawyers and jurists themselves.

The moral turpitude charge should be exposed for what it is, an item of uniform disinterest and indifference today in American and Philippine jurisprudence.

Most English dictionaries, British and American, do not carry the term. It does not exist for them. What we find instead are the words, torpor (which means inertia or apathy) and torpid (which means sluggish).

Moral turpitude exists solely in Black’s Law Dictionary, which is a legal lexicon.

Intellectual bankruptcy

It is in this context of a crime or offense that the courts and jurisprudence cannot define or fully understand that Carpio has introduced “moral turpitude” into our current election cycle.

For a former justice who is supposed to have fully served his time in the public service and has received the emoluments and retirement pay for his service, Carpio appears to be a malcontent who still wants to be involved in politics and government.

He has messed with the debate over the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea and he seeks to influence Philippine policy toward China and the US.

For the 2022 election, he serves as a convenor of the Sambayan1 coalition, which is fielding its own set of candidates in the May election.

Complainant lawyer Howard Calleja (left), convenor of Carpio’s “1-Sambayan”,     pushing for a  Comelec “en-banc” reversal of the First Division ruling 2-0 by Commissioners Casquejo (center) and ponente Ferolino (right). The separate opinion of erstwhile division head Rowena Guanzon was not taken into consideration because she had already retired. 

Carpio fully deserves the credit as well as the onus for this desperate effort to stop BBM via disqualification. It would have been fitting for Carpio to appear before the Comelec in the hearings.

But he turned tail and ran away from the challenge. He himself should have made the argument because he understood it the most and could best present its merit.

Having no means to stop BBM from running away with the election, especially with the charismatic Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio as his running mate, Carpio and the Liberals ought to disqualify him outright in the 2022 election.

The disqualification of Marcos Jr. from the election was the weapon of last resort. And Carpio supplied it.

Now, the Comelec has dismissed all petitions against Marcos Jr.’s run for president.

READ: Reversal of rulings on Marcos unlikely

No just desserts

The most regrettable thing in this entire affair is the fact that the author of the disqualification case against Marcos Jr. has not been held responsible or accountable for his handiwork.

Like the Machiavellian character Iago in Shakespeare’s play “Othello,” Carpio has hidden in the grass to avoid responsibility for all the ruckus. He has run away from the consequences.

Away from the spotlight, Carpio-Iago is doubtless scheming now to invent another plot to disrupt or pervert the May elections.

Iago in the Shakespearean tragedy eventually got his just desserts. Carpio still has to get his.

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