House minority bloc dismisses calls for CGMA to resign as Pampanga rep

November 23, 2011 10:47 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Nov. 23 — The Minority bloc at the House of Representatives on Wednesday dismissed calls for former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to resign her congressional seat, saying her arrest may still be invalidated by the Supreme Court.

House Minority Leader and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, in a press conference, said the resignation call "is uncalled for."

"For overriding reasons, there are pending prejudicial questions before (the Supreme Court) and if these are resolved in favor of the petitioners, then all the processes of the Department of Justice (DoJ) panel would be illegal and warrant of arrests would be quashed based on the illegitimacy of the DoJ panel," he said.

Lagman said that while both the DoJ and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) have concurrent powers to investigate, they cannot do it together since the poll body, as an independent body, cannot be fused with a politicized body like the DoJ.

"If two bodies have concurrent jurisdiction, the body that takes jurisdiction first excludes the other," he said.

The former president is under hospital arrest at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City after Comelec filed a case of electoral sabotage against her.

Mrs. Arroyo is being accused of allegedly giving orders to rig the 2007 poll results in favor of administration senatorial candidates.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teddy Casino and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio earlier urged the former president to resign as Pampanga’s second district representative after she was arrested last week for electoral sabotage.

Tinio said that the arrest made the former president "unfit for public service."

"Since the electoral sabotage case is just the first of many charges that she will face as she is called to account for the numerous crimes against the people she committed during her presidency, it will become impossible for her to discharge her duties as representative," he said.

Casino, on the other hand, urged the former president to quit her congressional seat since "her continued membership further tarnishes the House’s honor."

"She (Mrs. Arroyo) has brought embarrassment and dishonor to the House. She should now do the House and her constituents a favor by resigning from Congress," he said in a text message.

However, the Albay solon stressed that the former president will continue to enjoy presumption of innocence and that previously, congressmen who were also hailed to court were not asked to resign or leave until convicted.

"There are precedents in our Chamber that incumbents in similar positions were not asked to resign pending final adjudication. Resignation is personal that cannot be imposed by the call of a colleague," he said.

House Deputy Speaker and Quezon Rep. Lorenzo "Erin" Tanada III earlier said the electoral sabotage case filed against the former leader could not be used to remove her as member of the Lower Chamber since it involves allegations that supposedly occurred before she became a representative of the second district of Pampanga.

He said that only after conviction by final judgment can Mrs. Arroyo be removed from office.

For his part, Siquijor Rep. Orlando Fua said that it has become an unwritten tradition that as House members we will always extend inter-parliamentary courtesy to their colleague.

"Asking a colleague to resign would violate tradition. If a congressman is asked to resign, that would be adding insult to injury," he said. (PNA)

DCT/LGI

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