MANILA - Philippine presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was allowed to continue his presidential run after the nation's poll body on Wednesday dismissed the final disqualification petition against the son and namesake of the late Philippine dictator.

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) ruled that a disqualification case based on Marcos Jr.'s failure to file income tax returns lacked merit.

"Regardless of the fact that the non-filing of income tax return was done repeatedly by the respondent, there is still no tax evasion to speak of as no tax was actually intentionally evaded," the COMELEC's first division said in the ruling. "The government was not defrauded."

Five cases seeking to bar Marcos from running for president were earlier dismissed by the poll body and are now under appeal. Complainants can file an appeal with the COMELEC and escalate to the Supreme Court.

Marcos' camp did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Marcos, 64, has held a persistent lead in election surveys ahead of the May 9 poll. Analysts say his good ratings in surveys are partly because of a strong social media presence aimed at the youth, who were not yet born when the senior Marcos was in power. About 42% of eligible voters are under the age of 35.

The patriarch of the Marcos family, Ferdinand Marcos, ruled for 20 years, during which time he, his family and cronies amassed an estimated $10 billion in ill-gotten wealth, a commission found. Thousands of suspected communist rebels and political foes were arrested, tortured or killed.

The family is among the country's most famous dynasties and despite its fall from grace in 1986, it has retained powerful political connections and steadfast support in the northern Philippines.

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Karen Lema; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)