Santiago files bill barring convicted plunderers from running for office
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago has filed a bill that seeks perpetual disqualification for a public servant convicted of plunder, even if pardoned by the president.
In Senate Bill 2568, Santiago said “no pardon may extinguish the accessory penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification.”
The senator filed the bill last January 13 or even before the Supreme Court ruled against the disqualification case filed against former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada, who was convicted of plunder but was pardoned by then President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Republic Act 7080 defines the crime of plunder as the accumulation of ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of overt criminal acts in the aggregate amount of P50 million by a public official.
The theft of such amount from the nation, Santiago said, “is unforgivably criminal, and no person who is capable of such act has a place in public office.”
“It should then be unthinkable for a public servant, who was convicted by final judgment of the crime of plunder, to be allowed to hold office once more,” she said in her explanatory note of the bill.
“Public office is not the venue to test the limits of one’s ability to turn from his evil ways. Recent developments have shown, however, that is possible by some legal maneuvering, for one who has been convicted of the heinous crime of plunder to run and be re-elected into office,” she pointed out.
“This Act seeks to make it possible for one who has been convicted by final judgment of the crime of plunder to hold public office,” the senator further said.
Santiago said the Constitution provides the standard for the accountability of public officers and the high responsibility of public office.
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