Friday, January 30, 2009

Can Erap Run For President in 2010?

This is an important Constitutional question looming over the 2010 elections because former President Joseph Estrada has said he would seek the Presidency in 2010 if the Opposition fails to unite under a single standard bearer. Though Erap was impeached by the House, and tried by the Senate, he was never convicted. Instead after a vote of virtual acquittal, he was replaced by the Vice President who was suddenly sworn in by HIlario Davide under the protective guns of Angie Reyes. Erap was then charged, tried and convicted for plunder. But he was immediately pardoned by President Arroyo before serving even one day of his sentence, except time served during his trial. Joseph Estrada served less than three of the six year term that he won by a landslide over Jose de Venecia in 1998.

Now that question: 
CAN ERAP RUN FOR PRESIDENT IN 2010? 

Here is the relevant 1987 provision:
Section 4. The President and the Vice-President shall be elected by direct vote of the people for a term of six years which shall begin at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date, six years thereafter. The President shall not be eligible for any re-election. No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time.
The phrase   "any re-election"  above can be interpreted to mean one of two things: either immediate re-election of the incumbent to the same office, or it can mean "election to the same office at any time." which is the usage in the last sentence quoted.

In Constitutional construction where the framers have used a different textual formulation they signal a different intended meaning, else why would they not use the same terminology?

In my opinion there is another reason why a plain understanding of the words of the Constitution in this provision would favor the possibility of Joseph Estrada seeking the Presidency in 2010.  

Look at the sentence: "The President shall not be eligible for any re-election."

Well, is Joseph Estrada "the President" now or before the election in 2010? Obviously not.  

I think the upshot of this is that all the living ex-Presidents, including Cory and FVR are eligible to run for President in 2010.

26 comments:

Jun Bautista said...

Your position regarding the question of whether or not Erap, or other former presidents for that matter, can ran for president again is indeed an interesting one and deserves serious consideration - I might add. But it is my view that the constitutional provision in question bars any sitting or former president from running again for president. The word "re-elected" here should be understood in its ordinary, not technical, meaning. It simply means a person, who once held an office (the president in this case), cannot be elected again to the same office, whether immediately or after a gap. The use of "re" in the word "re-elected," in my humble opinion (not claiming to be a constitutional law expert), means "back" or "again." In other words, when the Constitution says the president shall not be eligible for any re-election, it simply means that the president cannot be elected again as president, whether immediately after the end of his/her term or at any other time. Notice the qualifying word "any" before "re-election." "Any re-election" clearly conveys the idea that it includes election to the office again immediately or after the intervention of another or other terms. If indeed the framers of the Constitution contemplated only immediate re-election, they would not have bothered inserting the word "any" before "re-election."

Now, the reason why in the last sentence of section 4, the word "re-election" was not used is due to the fact that it speaks of a sitting president who assumed the office not by election, but by some other means, as in the case of GMA. This is clearly shown by the phrase "who has succeeded as President." It would not be proper in this case to use the word "re-elected" because the occupant of the office has not been elected to that office before, but ascended to the presidency by some other means - by the rule of succession.

Finally, the constitutional prohibition does not require that an elected president or one who has assumed the office by succession and served for more than four years be able to complete his/her term of office. It is an accepted rule of legal construction that where the law does not qualify, no qualification should be made.

It is my humble view, therefore, that Erap and other elected presidents are not eligible to ran for president again.

Anonymous said...

No, hindi na puwede. Na-elect na si erap, so di na puwede i-elect ulit!

As far as the constitutional framers, why make this provision vague, or vague nga ba o gusto lang lagyan ng diskusyon?

Palagay ko gusto lang gawaan ng dibate. Palayuan na naman ng laway yan, samantalang gusto lang naman talaga magpasikat ng mga kunwari e maraming alam.

DJB Rizalist said...

That was a very thoughtful and thorough response. Thank you Jun Bautista. And what of the "political question"? What of "The spring cannot rise higher than the source?" What if every SWS and Pulse Asia Survey shows that the Filipinos want Erap again and don't care about our fancy words and definitions?

Anonymous said...

To understand what Article VII Section 4 of the 1987 RP Constitution means, one only needs to have a good comprehension, a properly working brain, and not a "never-say-die" fan of Erap. Even professional semantic gymnasts will find it difficult to twist and turn the meaning of the last 2 sentences of section 4.

Are you the campaign Manager-PR specialist of Erap for the 2010 elections? If you are, then better hire some bodyguards.You have just committed 2 intellectual criminal offense punishable by death. First, you maliciously and intentionally wrongly interpreted the basic words in order to suit your political and personal interest, gravely undermining the integrity and wisdom of the people who crafted the constitution. Second, you entertain the idea that the people still likes Erap, and the possibility of Erap becoming the next President of the Republic.

Jun Bautista said...

Assuming my interpretation of the constitutional provision in question is correct, the fact that every reputable survey favors Erap running for president again does not mean we can altogether set aside the legal prohibition. I may sound trite, but the rule of law must prevail. Let us not forget that the same source that gave rise to the spring also generated another spring that is the constitution. Unless this provision is amended the people cannot just conveniently disregard what they ratified to govern them in the first place. But then again, this is assuming my interpretation is correct.

DJB Rizalist said...

anonymous,
sorry to disturb your acquiescence but I am merely reading the plain English grammar and composition of the constitution. It says, "The President shall not be eligible for any re-election."

It does not say "A" President, or "Any President" or "All Presidents". It says THE President.

Who is THE President?

It makes a lot of sense I think that we are only excluding sitting presidents, because it is only they who have "Incumbent's Advantage" which is the unfair advantage we wanted to remove to prevent another Marcos, who of course used "Guns Goons and Gold" to win re-election in 1969.

But a former President like Cory, FVR or Erap, who have sat out at least one Presidential cycle no longer has Incumbent's advantage, as in fact Gloria had in 2004. A flaw in the Constitution.

But if you want to sue me for intellectual disturbance of the peace or whatever you think I am culpable of, be my guest.

But persons not even willing to identify themselves and hide behind anonymity cannot possibly disturb my peace of mind, I can tell you.

Anonymous said...

Wow djb, ang galing ng sagot mo. So para kumontra sa iyo kailangan e registered ka sa blogspot. Ganoon ba yun? Besides, names don't mean much sa comments. For all we know it may be you yourself who is generating comments.

Nonong

O yan inaydentipay ko na ako. Happy?

tip. ibawal mo mag comment ang anonymous. Alam mong gawain yan. Kaya mo yan.

DJB Rizalist said...

thanks, nonong. I really don't mind anonymous commenters, as long as they don't threaten legal action against me from behind the veil so to speak. hehe.

manuelbuencamino said...

Deanie,

interesting point. and it's just the type of thing the Supreme Court for decide one way or the other.

If your interpretation is correct that will raise the possibility of Gloria giving way to Mike for 6 years and then running for president after Mike's term ends and then Mikey can inherit the seat hold it for 6 pass it to Dato and then take it back again until their children are old enough to take over.

DJB Rizalist said...

MB,
I know. It's a scary thought.

Jun Bautista said...

To say that the ban on re-election applies only to an incumbent to prevent him/her from having the incumbent's advantage, then there appears to be no rhyme or reason why the same prohibition does not apply to one who became president through succession and served the position for four years or less as provided in the last sentence of section 4. Surely, one who succeeded to the presidency like GMA has no less an incumbent's advantage in running for election to the same office immediately after the filled up term expires. We all have heard of the ferilizer fund scam and the "Hello Garci" tapes. Despite this, the constitution does not prevent such person from running for president.

Anonymous said...

djb,

Hehe, I know you are a good sport and have a good sense of humor. So far, isang beses palang kitang nakitang napikon. I think I know which button it is. One day I'll push it.

nonong.

Anonymous said...

"sorry to disturb your acquiescence but I am merely reading the plain English grammar and composition of the constitution. It says, "The President shall not be eligible for any re-election."

It does not say "A" President, or "Any President" or "All Presidents". It says THE President.

Who is THE President?

It makes a lot of sense I think that we are only excluding sitting presidents, because it is only they who have "Incumbent's Advantage" which is the unfair advantage we wanted to remove to prevent another Marcos, who of course used "Guns Goons and Gold" to win re-election in 1969.

But a former President like Cory, FVR or Erap, who have sat out at least one Presidential cycle no longer has Incumbent's advantage, as in fact Gloria had in 2004. A flaw in the Constitution.

But if you want to sue me for intellectual disturbance of the peace or whatever you think I am culpable of, be my guest.

But persons not even willing to identify themselves and hide behind anonymity cannot possibly disturb my peace of mind, I can tell you."

I think the view that "THE President" means an incumbent is a bit simplistic. If it was the intention of the framers to say so, wouldn't they have just said it plainly like putting as "the incumbent President". Not to mention the opinion of two of the framers clearly state the Constitutional text really mean - that is - an elected President is ineligible to run for ANY re-election.

Louie Santos said...

The argument that "THE President" means an incumbent president is laughable at most that only rabid Pro-Erap would suggest and believe. If that was the intention of the framers, they could have just state it as "the incumbent president". Not to mention, two of the original framers have already expressed their opinion that the real intention is to bar ANY re-election for elected presidents.

Further, the succeeding sentence refer to succession to presidency through other means aside from election. It does not refer to unfinished term of an elected president.

This is laughable and annoying at the same time.

Not to mention, that Erap is a convicted plunderer.

Anonymous said...

simple lang naman po yung draft nung constitution... 'No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time.' naka-ilang taon ba manungkulan si erap? kayo naman woh...

Jesusa Bernardo said...

@ Jun B, Louis Santos

Indeed, Erap was convicted as a plunderer--by the Kangaroo Court SPECIALly appointed by the 2001 power grabber.

Ellen Tordesillas & others had reported about Mike Velarde's & Cardinal Vidal's advanced knowledge of the "guilty" plunder verdict months earlier here. Plus, fyi, those justices whose verdict you seem to hold in high regard were soon appointed to the SC. Too much of a coincidental reward to anyone sober enough, really.

The last Anonymous' point is the strongest case to ALLOW Erap's bid for reelection. Napaka-simple at klaro naman talaga eh ayaw nyo lang talaga yata kay Erap: "...and has served as such for more than four years..."

Don't let your prejudice against one man get the better of your sense of law and justice.

Jun Bautista said...

I'm sorry Jesusa, I fail to see in my comments where my bias against Erap shows; I was merely speaking about the plain meaning of the law as it applies to Erap. My first comment will clearly tell you in the last sentence that the prohibition does not only refer to Erap, it applies equally as well to any other elected president - be it Ramos or GMA.

The phrase you quoted as well as Anonymous, that "no person who has succeeded as president . . ." does not refer to an elected president, but rather to one who assumed the presidency by the rule of succession. Erap became president by election and not by succession, so clearly that does not apply to him.

Anonymous said...

actually erap cannot run. because accrding to sec.4 No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time.
erap served us for only 3 years. and by the way. malacanang have a contract for erap's pardon. remember?

Jesusa Bernardo said...

I will have to say you lost me there, Jun. "Succession" is not exclusive of election. Merriam-Webster's define it as the act or process of one person's taking the place of another in the enjoyment of or liability for rights or duties or both."

Isn't it that we consider that FVR a successor to Cory? Americans (who should know the English language well) similarly use the word: Examples in the Web-- a media outfit and an American university, Examiner and George Mason university both write: "Obama succeeded Bush...."

2nd point, are you saying that since Gloria 'legally' succeeded only (not via elections), it is on her that the ban is applicable? Then why did the SC allow her to run in 2004?

Let me quote from my article posted elsewhere:
For Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, a 2007 senatorial aspirant and bar topnotcher, a support to this argument is the fact that Arroyo, who 'legally' succeeded Estrada via a Supreme Court decision, was allowed to run in 2004. The reelection ban applies only to an incumbent President who completed at least four years of his/her term following his/her succession to the highest office in the land. Ateneo de Manila law professor Alan Paguia supports this argument, explaining that by 'parity of reasoning,' Estrada should have the right to run in as much as Arroyo was able to run in the controversial presidential elections of 2004.

Jun Bautista said...

Hi Jesusa,

To answer your question, let me refer you to my Jan. 31, 2009 comment in this comment thread.

Jesusa Bernardo said...

@ Anonymous,

You say Estrada "cannot run" based on sec. 4 of the Charter, quoting: "No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time," and at the same time, write that "erap served us for only 3 years."

I'm truly amazed at the wild imagination and disconnect-with-reality of rabid anti-Erap people. Next time, are you gonna write that the former President was ousted in 2003 instead of 2001?

You guys really lost me.

Jun Bautista said...

Section 4 can be divided into three parts: (1) first sentence - talks about the manner of electing the president and vp; (2) second sentence - talks about prohibition to one ELECTED as president from running again; and (3) last sentence - talks about prohibition on one who SUCCEEDED the presidency from running again if he/she served more than four years under this capacity.

Erap was elected to the presidency, so clearly sentence two applies to him. He is prohibited, as any other elected president like FVR or GMA (in 2004), from running again as evidenced by the phrase "ANY re-election." The word "any" dispels any doubt that it does not only apply to an incumbent president (to whom re-election in its strict meaning applies, that of running again immediately after his/her term expires), but also to one who has once been president via election. The word "re-elected" also dispels any doubt that the second sentence applies only to one who has been elected as president. This is evidenced by the fact that since GMA was not elected to the presidency in 2001, the ban on re-election did not apply to her.

Sentence three speaks of one who has succeeded as president. This speaks about the rule of succession operating, as when the president dies, becomes incapacitated, resigns or otherwise does not finish his/her term, and the vp or the speaker, etc., assumes the presidency. To this person, the ban on being elected (re-election cannot apply as he/she has never been elected to the office in the first place)applies if the presidency is served for more than four years. GMA qualified for election to the presidency in 2004 because she was not elected to the office in her first term, but became president by the rule of succession, AND because she has not served in that capacity for more than four years.

The word "succeeded" in the last sentence of section 4 cannot mean one who has been "elected" as president. Had this been the intention, then the word "one who has been elected president" or "one who became president" would have been used. Succeeded is used in its technical meaning. Also, it cannot be harmonized with the second sentence which speaks of a ban on ANY re-election, for why would the second sentence ban any re-election without qualification while at the same time the last sentence ban re-election if and when one who became president served only for more than four years? Clearly to allow this interpretation would render the second sentence useless, a surplasage. As already discussed, the second sentence does not only apply to the incumbent, but to one who has once been elected as president.

Jesusa Bernardo said...

I take that the last response is directed to me. I'm gonna respond by coming up with another Erap can/can't run article (Phil. Commentary has at least 3?) based on my article posted elsewhere, DJB's points and yours, and of course the legal opinions of the legal "luminaries."

Sayang kasi kung sa comment thread lang. I'll be able to do that probably next week because I have another one in line.

Jesusa Bernardo said...

Just a short one:

On DJB's point I totally agree. The article "The" is one of the most basic things taught in English classes. "The" is unquestionably definitive in that it specifically refers to one and only one, not a bunch of similar/related nouns.

At least on that point, so clear and elementary.

Jun Bautista said...

That'll be great Jesusa. I look forward to your article.

gideonpena said...

There are two views in this issue. One view is that former President Estrada can be re-elected since it is not done immediately following his first term. Another view is that he is forever disqualified because Section 4 of Article VI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides in part that ‘x x x the President shall not be eligible for any re-election. x x x’ The phrase any re-election can be interpreted to mean one of two things. It may either be the immediate re-election of the incumbent to the same office or the election to the same office at any time. See full article Kidding Aside: Is Erap Elligible to Run for President? on http://gideonpena.multiply.com/journal