The Manila Times
NO HOLDS BARRED
Rep. Edcel C. Lagman’s
Weekly Thursday Column
EXCEPT for Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go who is running for vice president, no incumbent senator whose term does not expire on June 30, 2022 is vying for a higher position in the May 9, 2022 elections. This is unlike in the 2016 presidential election when five senators ran for president or vice president without forfeiting their unexpired terms in the Senate. All lost and all had their seats waiting for their return, courtesy of an unfair proviso in the Fair Election Act of 2001.
An improvident portion of the repealing clause in the Fair Election Act was smuggled by the bicameral conference committee in the “reconciled” bill which allowed senators and barangay officials to run for positions other than the ones to which they were elected and, in the event they lose, they reassume their unexpired terms.
This unfair rider inserted in the repealing clause was not in the version of the House of Representatives when passed on third and final reading during the 11th Congress, of which I was not a member. This iniquitous accommodation, possibly sponsored by some senators at the time, is solely applicable to senators and barangay officials who have unexpired terms after the election in which they run for other positions.
The “non-forfeiture” concession does not benefit other elective officials like representatives, governors, vice governors, board members, city and municipal mayors, and city and municipal councilors whose three-year terms expire soon after a mid-term or presidential election.
The repugnant repealing clause under Sec. 14 of the “Fair Election Act” deviously provides: “Sections 67 and 85 of the Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa Blg. 881) and Sections 10 and 11 of R.A. No. 6646 are hereby repealed. As a consequence, the first proviso in the third paragraph of Sec. 11 of R.A. No. 8436 is rendered ineffective.”
This repealing clause was crafted to conceal a malevolent intent – to allow a select group of losing candidates to serve out the remaining terms of the positions they have abandoned. It deceitfully mixed relevant and irrelevant statutory provisions which were repealed. For example, Section 85 of the Omnibus Election Code on “Prohibited Forms of Election Propaganda” and Sections 10 and 11 of “The Electoral Reforms Law of 1987” on “Common Poster Areas” and “Prohibited Forms of Election Propaganda”, respectively, are clearly relevant to the “Fair Election Act” which principally regulates election propaganda.
However, the repealed provisions of Section 67 of the Omnibus Election Code and the first proviso in the third paragraph of Section 11 of R.A. No. 8436 on the Automated Election System (AES) are utterly not germane to the Fair Election Act as they have no bearing whatsoever on election propaganda. They are patent discriminatory riders.
The repealed Section 67 of the Omnibus Election Code provided that “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 [the] President and Vice President, shall be considered ipso facto resigned from his office upon the filing of his certificate of candidacy” and the repealed first proviso in the third paragraph of Section 11 of the AES provided that “any elective official, whether national or local, running for any office other than the one which he/she is holding in a permanent capacity, except for [the] president and vice-president, shall be deemed resigned only upon the start of the campaign period corresponding to the position for which he/she is running”.
Both Section 67 of the Omnibus Election Code and the first proviso in the third paragraph of Section 11 of the AES mandate that, except for the president and vice president, all elective officials are deemed resigned if they run for a position other than the one to which they have been elected or they are holding in a permanent capacity. The only difference is that under Section 67 of the Omnibus Election Code, the resignation is upon the filing of the certificate of candidacy, while under the repealed proviso of the AES, the resignation is upon the start of the campaign period for the new positions for which they are running.
Either way, these repealed provisions are ethical and fair for requiring ipso facto resignation. The only exception is when either the President or Vice President during their respective tenures runs for a different position. Hence, had President Duterte ran for vice president in the May 2022 elections, he is not deemed resigned as President. Similarly, Vice President Leni Robredo’s candidacy for president in 2022 does not result in her forfeiting the vice presidency.
Verily, these repealed provisions must be restored by corrective legislation. The “Fair Election Act” must be cleansed of this unfair repealing clause for the following reasons:
An elective official must serve out his term consistent with his covenant with the people and the latter’s mandate, otherwise he must forfeit his office if he runs for another position during his tenure.
The present practice of reclaiming one’s position violates the Constitution on equal protection because only a select group benefits – exclusively senators and barangay officials who have unexpired terms after a particular presidential or mid-term election.
Ethics in politics demands automatic forfeiture of one’s office when one vies for a different position while still having an unexpired term for one’s present position.
Running for another position during one’s incumbency is abandonment of an elective position.
This class legislation and unethical practice are anathema to fair elections. This is grossly aggravated because the repeal of the then ipso facto resignation provisions was clandestinely imbedded in the “Fair Election Act”.
Verily, except for the President and Vice President, an incumbent who runs for an elective position, other than the one to which he has been elected, must be considered automatically resigned.