SC upholds right of incumbent officials to stay in their posts


MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court has dismissed a 3-year-old petition questioning a provision of the Fair Election Act that allows incumbent elective public officials to remain in their posts even after they have filed candidacies for other elective positions.

In an eight-page decision dated Jan. 22 and released on Friday, the High Court said they found no reason to disturb a 2003 decision that upheld Section 14 of the Act (Republic Act No. 9006), which repealed an earlier election code that considered an incumbent official resigned upon the filing of his or her candidacy for another position.

The suit against RA 9006 was filed in October 2009 by Henry Giron, leader of the nongovernmental Article 64 Movement, shortly after Malacañang announced that then-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was planning to run for the congressional seat of Pampanga in the 2010 polls.

Arroyo formalized her candidacy the following month and won the congressional race in Pampanga’s 2nd district.

Aside from Section 14, Giron also questioned Section 12 of the Act which refers to the treatment of ballots cast.

Giron asked the Court to stop the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from enforcing the two provisions, saying these would enable elective officials to gain campaign advantage and allow them to disburse public funds from the time they file their certificates of candidacy until after the polls.

Giron, who was later joined by three other petitioners-intervenors, also contended that the two sections were unrelated to the main subject of RA 9006—the lifting of the political ad ban. He pointed out that Section 26 (1), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution specifically requires: “Every bill passed by Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in the title thereof.”

The justices, however, voted to dismiss the petitions.

No compelling reason

“After a thorough review of the arguments raised, we find that petitioners and petitioners-in-intervention were unable to present a compelling reason that would surpass the strong presumption of validity and constitutionality in favor of the Fair Election Act,” the Court said in a decision penned by Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.

All the other members of the Court, except Justice Arturo Brion who was on leave, agreed with Sereno.

The Court said Giron and the others were unable to put forward “any gripping justification” to reverse the Court’s ruling in the 2003 case (Farinas v. Executive Secretary). That ruling found the title and objectives of RA 9006 “comprehensive enough” to include other subjects other that the lifting of the ban on the use of media for election propaganda.

The justices said that after “a careful analysis,” they found that the Sections 12 and 14 were “germane” to the subject expressed in the title of RA 9006: An Act of Enhance the Holding of Free, Orderly, Honest, Peaceful and Credible Elections through Fair Election Practices.

“The title was worded broadly enough to include the measures embodied in the assailed sections. Consequently, we dismiss the petitions for failure to establish a clear breach of the Constitution,” they said.

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  • Mang Teban

    In some instances, practice exceeds theory by circumvention of the original intent.
    This is the gist, I think, of the petitions to consider incumbents resigned from their posts upon filing their application for candidacy.

    It is improbable that then president Gloria M. Arroyo DID NOT use her powers to redirect funds to increase her chances to be elected as congresswoman in her district in the province of Pampanga. The Supreme Court need not listen to arguments or see evidences for a “gripping justification” that the decision penned by the SC chief justice said the petitioners were unable to put forward. All the SC justices need to consider is experiences in the past.

    As a matter of fact, our existing problem to grapple with the family dynasties that is without an enabling act from Congress despite a distinct prohibition in our Constitution against it is the strong “gripping justification” that Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno is looking for. How members of one family tree continue to have a hold in taking elective posts seems to be an impossible task to  severe this practice from taking place in the regular elections. One major breakthrough that this country needs to realize the constitutional prohibition on family dynasties is to DISQUALIFY an incumbent of a political family dynasty from staying in power during the campaign period with liberal discretion to use public funds when that politician files a certificate of candidacy with the Comelec for any elective post.

    We should allow the universal rule of succession when the incumbent becomes “incapable to serve” to put the next in line in acting status up to the end of the elections. This “incapacity to serve” can be construed to include ensuring that public funds are not misused by the incumbent who can abuse his authority and powers for his self-interest as candidate for the forthcoming elections. This is what can be considered as transparency that we direly need to clean up the government of overstaying family dynasties. Otherwise, the constitutional prohibition on family dynasties will remain only as lip service by legislators who do not lift a finger to make an enabling law to achieve fair playing field for candidates running for the same elective post.

  • koolkid_inthehouse

    They should resign before filing the candidacy for another position or the same position in different place. Self serving law.

  • Bigboy I

    dapat magkaroon ng amendment sa batas!

    • zeroko

      Mapagkakatiwalaan mo pa ba ang ating Filipino-Chinese dominated government. if you are referring to Charter Change, tapos na ang lahi ng mga tunay na Pilipino. You practically give the Chinese what they so desire which is to rule our country. 

      You do not know what you are suggesting because of your stupid simplistic mind. 

  • Platypus09

    It is just normal for Sereno to defend the interests of Mr. President who put her in that position.

    I am not be surprised. Maybe our Congress made a big mistake in confirming her when she was nominated for that position.

    I still have to see good things from this SC. I have not trusted them fully, hopefully soon..

    • Komen To

      Again, read the news. The decision favored GMA who ran forCongress while sitting as president, not favoring PNoy. Read the news and try to understand it

  • zeroko

    Wala na. Tuta na itong si Sereno sa Executive Branch just because she was appointed as CJ. Mantakin mo, pag ang isang nakaupo na government elected official wants to campaign in another position, and if he or she loses, she or he can came back to his former position? Bastos! Hindi na ako believe ke Sereno!

    • Komen To

      Sereno favored GMA in her decision, read the news again, you moron

  • goldilock

    Put into law: No current or previous officials be accepted for candidacy if the person is found:
    1. corrupt.
    2. embezzlement
    3. plunder
    4. crimes

    Graft and corruption, crimes should be the compelling reasons not to accept any person for candidacy in public office.

    Looks everyone is filling or is again a candidate.

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