Monday, June 22, 2009

Can GMA Run For Congresswoman?

By Joselito G. Basilio

There is an ongoing debate as to whether President Gloria Arroyo would be considered as having forfeited her position should she run for congresswoman in Pampanga. Let me submit what I understood about this issue.

Before the passage of Fair Election Act (Republic Act No. 9006), any elective official including a President is deemed resigned from his office upon filing of his certificate of candidacy. The Omnibus Election Code (B.P. Blg. 881, Sec. 67) provides :

Sec. 67. Candidates holding elective office. - Any elective official, whether national or local, running for any office other than the one which he is holding in a permanent capacity, except for President and Vice-President, shall be considered ipso factoresigned from his office upon the filing of his certificate of candidacy.

In the landmark case of Dimaporo vs. Mitra (G.R. No. 96859, 15 October 1991), the Supreme Court sustained the constitutionality of Speaker Mitras’ administrative act of erasing Ali Dimaporo name from the Roll of the House, pursuant to Sec. 67 of B.P. 881. The High Tribunal underscored the basic concept that a public office is a public trust - it is created for the interest and benefit of the people. As such, the holder thereof is subject to such regulations and conditions as the law may impose and he cannot complain of any restrictions which public policy may dictate on his office.

However, Sec. 67 of B.P. 881, was repealed by Sec. 14 of R.A. 9006 in 2001. The repealing clause provides :

Section 14. Repealing Clause. – Section 67 and 85 of the Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa Bldg. 881) and Sections 10 and 11 of Republic Act No. 6646 are hereby repealed. As a consequence, the first proviso in the third paragraph of Section 11 of Republic Act No. 8436 is rendered ineffective. All laws, presidential decrees, executive orders, rules and regulations, or any part thereof inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed or modified or amended accordingly.

R.A. 9006 was declared constitutional by no less than the Supreme Court in Farinas vs. Comelec (G.R. No. 152161, 10 December 2003). The SC said that Congress is not precluded from repealing Section 67 by the ruling of the Court in Dimaporo v. Mitra, upholding the validity of the provision and by its pronouncement in the same case that the provision has a laudable purpose. Over time, Congress may find it imperative to repeal the law on its belief that the election process is thereby enhanced and the paramount objective of election laws — the fair, honest and orderly election of truly deserving members of Congress — is achieved.

Incidentally, Justice Cruz, argued that the repeal of Sec. 67 of B.P. 881 by Sec. 14 ofR.A. 9006 is not valid for being a mere rider in violation of Art. VI, Sec. 26 (1) of theConstitution providing that “every bill passed by the Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in the title thereof.” The Fair Election Act deals only with political advertising, like TV commercials and election posters. It has nothing to do with forfeiture of original offices upon the filing of certificates of candidacy for different offices as provided for in Sec. 67.

In conclusion, based on the R.A. 9006 and Farinas ruling, GMA would not be deemed as having forfeited her position should she files her certificate of candidacy for congresswoman or any other positions lower than the Presidency for that matter.

It is however my fervent hope that someone has to challenge anew the constitutionality of Sec. 14 of Fair Election Act in the event GMA files her certificate of candidacy.

1 comment:

AdB said...

Well, according to what you just posted, she can... she will have to resign though and that should not be a bad idea.

But I do think she was saying that tongue in cheek, you know, that she was going to run for a seat in Congress... she was sort of being "impish" (yikes...)

In any case, if she does decide to run for a seat, I don't believe she'll want to stop at being an ordinary congress jerk, er, woman... she might be thinking of change house rules. Hah, anything is possible where this mental midget is concerned.