Pass a law mandating incumbents to resign when seeking other elective posts, Macalintal says

June 22, 2009 8:50 am 

MANILA, June 22 — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's election lawyer, Atty. Romulo Macalintal, asked both chambers of Congress to pass a law mandating that incumbent elective officials seeking other elective posts to resign their current positions to level the playing field.

In a radio interview this morning, Macalintal said Section 67 of the Omnibus Election Code "which previously required incumbents to resign their present positions if they run for other elective positions" had been repealed by Republic Act 9006 or the Fair Election Act.

RA 9006 removed the prohibition, thus officials running for other elective positions need not resign from their current post. "If you are a Senator, you need not resign your position so if you lose the election you can return to finish your term," Macalintal said.

"Right now we have a lot of senators running for President. You have a senator who lost and returned to finish his remaining term (as in the case of Sen. Panfilo Lacson)," he said.

He said President Arroyo, who was elected for a fixed term of six years, has the same rights as other elected officials to run for another office without having to resign his/her post.

On the issue that the President enjoys undue advantage over other candidates because of the machinery and funds at her disposal, Macalintal said "the same is true with senators running for the presidency. They can use their office, staff, machinery and projects to promote themselves to the electorate," he said.

The morality issue can be resolved if everyone should resign from their current positions to seek another elective post. He cited the case of broadcasters and other media practitioners who are required by their employers to take a leave of absence before running for public office.

Anybody can question the President's candidacy for another elective position, if indeed she runs for another office, before the Supreme Court, Macalintal said. But such petition will be denied outright as the High Tribunal has already decided on this issue in Farinas versus Comelec in December 2003. In fact, it was Sen. Francisco Escudero who contested RA 9006 and the court threw out his petition, Macalintal added.

"So we must go back to Congress and ask them to pass a law that would require all incumbents seeking other positions to resign before doing so. I bet you they would not do it," he said.

"I challenge those criticizing the President to be the first to file a bill in Congress to require all incumbents seeking other positions to resign," he said.

He said he thinks the President wants to take care of her grandchildren because "she has not conveyed her election plans to me yet and I suppose she does not have any."

He called on the President's detractors to stop criticizing her for her alleged election plans, saying "If they cannot file that bill, then they must stop criticizing her. Sabi nga kung ano ang bagay sa iyo dapat bagay din sa ibang tao. Kung talagang gusto natin ng pantay pantay na pag-observe ng batas gawin natin iyan. Hindi iyong para bang one sided lamang tayo sa isang bagay" (As the saying goes what is good for you must be good for everyone. Nothing must be one-sided), he said.

As to a previous remark of the President made in jest that "Who knows, I might even run for Congress," Macalintal said, adding "That is also what Joseph Estrada said." (PNA)

DCT/OPS/utb

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