Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez (File photo)

MANILA – An official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has come to the defense of the ruling of its First Division denying the three petitions to disqualify presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. from running in the May 9 polls.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez made the remark saying some who are reacting to the ruling are taking it out of context, emphasizing the First Division has not stated it is okay not to file an income tax return (ITR).

“That has been said, the decision does say that but the decision was saying that in the context of trying to explain the difference between a crime of mala inse and mala prohibitum. This is a very important criminal law principle," he said in an online briefing on Friday.

In explaining these principles, he said a crime mala inse is a "crime that is by itself naturally wrong".

"For example, murder, you don’t need a law to tell you that murder is wrong but there are some offenses that are mala prohibitum which means they are considered wrong under the law only because a special law exists,” he said.

Jimenez also cited jaywalking as an example in explaining the ruling.

“Jaywalking is not inherently wrong but if there’s an ordinance that prohibits jaywalking then it becomes wrong. That is the purpose of that statement,” he added.

He said the poll body has not said there is no offense for not filing an ITR, as it said that there is such a violation.

“If you look at what is being said now on social media, what they are saying is because the Comelec said that, it is okay not to file an ITR. That’s not correct because even in the decision itself, the Comelec points out that in fact a special law was passed to penalize failure to file ITR. So it’s wrong to say that the Comelec is saying that there is no offense in the failure to file ITR because the Comelec says there is. But there was a point to be made about the difference between mala inse and mala prohibitum,” Jimenez said.

“Very important to emphasize that failure to file an ITR is not by itself necessarily tax evasion. These are two different offenses punished differently under the law. They will say what they want to say even when they have the facts right in front of their faces. That’s perfectly fine. The point is, 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 offense,” he added.

In a ruling penned by Commissioner Aimee Ferolino released on Thursday, the poll body's First Division dismissed the consolidated disqualification cases against Marcos filed by Bonifacio Ilagan et al., Akbayan et al., and Abubakar Mangelen for lack of merit.

The decision was concurred by Commissioner Marlon Casquejo. (PNA)