SC: Convicted mayor qualified to run for reelection

June 1, 2009 1:31 pm 

MANILA, June 1 – A former mayor who has been convicted for violation of Republic Act 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, can run in the 2010 elections if his case did not involve moral turpitude.

In a unanimous decision penned by Associate Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, the SC clarified that under the Omnibus Election Code, a person shall be disqualified from running for public office only if he/she has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.

The SC explained that not every criminal act involves moral turpitude.

The case stemmed from the conviction of former Negros Occidental Mayor Edgar Teves who owns a cockpit in his town.

In relation with the Local Government Code of 1991, it is prohibited under RA 3019 for a government officer to have any financial or pecuniary interest in a cockpit licensed by the local government unit over which he presides.

The SC held that while such interests are banned by law, a violation thereof does not necessarily involve moral turpitude or make such interest inherently immoral.

It declared that the determination as to what crime involves moral turpitude is left with the Courts, guided by the principle that moral turpitude is everything which is done contrary to justice, modesty or good morals.

Thus, the SC said, although a person may have been convicted of a crime, the Courts must step in to determine whether such act involves moral turpitude warranting disqualification from candidacy. (PNA) DCT/vcs/PTR

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