Doc vs doc: Ex-PMA head barred from office
MANILA, Philippines–She had barely warmed her seat as president of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) but already she has been beset by protests.
Challenging Dr. Minerva Calimag’s first day in office was the organization’s former president, Dr. Leo Olarte, who claimed he was still the group’s head, citing his successor’s “disqualification” from the post.
Monday’s protest left the PMA with two presidents, internal and external—literally—with Olarte and several doctors barred from setting foot on the compound along North Avenue in Quezon City.
Ironically, it was Olarte who lodged the electioneering complaint in the organization’s election tribunal and commission on elections against his rival for the PMA presidency.
“Calimag’s group engaged in preelection campaigning. They circulated text messages and fabricated lies against me long before the campaign period began for the March 16 elections,” he said.
In a “final decision” issued on May 27, the PMA electoral tribunal, composed of doctors Florencio Balbido, Mercedes Osunero and Carlos Infante, ruled that because Calimag had failed to respond to the electioneering charge against her, she was disqualified from the presidency.
“Therefore, with the cancellation of the candidacy of Dr. Minerva Calimag, Dr. Leo Olarte becomes unopposed. We hereby declare him the winner of the presidency for 2014-2015,” the tribunal said.
But Calimag questioned the composition of the electoral tribunal, with the members’ appointments not approved and ratified during the May 23 annual PMA convention, where she was inducted as president.
She said the members of the electoral tribunal were appointed by Olarte only on May 3 when they should have been appointed in November last year.
She said she responded to his electioneering complaint before the PMA’s comelec which had yet to resolve the issue.
Asked why Olarte and the other doctors were barred from entering the PMA compound on Monday, Calimag said, “We do not want trouble here.”
When told that Olarte merely wanted to retrieve his belongings from the president’s office, Calimag scoffed and said the former official might just refuse to leave and lock himself up in the office.
She said PMA members had to get clearance from the organization’s secretariat to enter the compound.
“The PMA has only one president; I was elected president,” Calimag said.