Saturday, September 19, 2009

Philippine Supreme Court rules VS. premature campaigning

Despite their strong lead in surveys, boosted enormously by the positive effect of massive spending on political advertisements, front running Presidential contenders as well as aspirants for other public offices may be facing the prospect of removal from office should they win in the May 2010 elections.

This may apply Manny Villar, Mar Roxas, Ronaldo Puno, Noli De Castro, Bobby Syjuco, and others.

The Philippine Star reports that the Supreme Court removed a town mayor in Surigao del Norte for electioneering a day before the official campaign period.

Lawyer Ferdinand Rafanan, Commission on Elections law department director, said the SC decision unseating Mayor Rosalinda Penera of Sta. Monica, Surigao del Norte has given the poll body more teeth in going after politicians who might start campaigning after filing their certificates of candidacy between Nov. 20 and 30.

“With the decision of SC, they should be afraid,” he said.

“We learned from this decision that section. 80 of Omnibus Election Code is still in effect.”

Voting 8 -7, SC justices dismissed Penera’s defense that she did not violate law since she could not be considered a candidate when she held the motorcade because she had not yet filed her certificate of candidacy.

The SC said the rule on the

90-day campaign period prior to election day should apply even to aspirants who have not yet filed certificates of candidacy.

“We cannot stress strongly enough that premature campaigning is a pernicious act that is continuously threatening to undermine the conduct of fair and credible elections in our country, no matter how great or small the acts constituting the same are,” read the SC decision.

In his complaint, Andanar said a day before the campaign period for the 2007 election, Penera summoned supporters to join her in filing her COC and a motorcade followed.

“Obviously, it is only at the start of the campaign period, when the person officially becomes a candidate, that the undue and iniquitous advantage of his/her prior acts, constituting premature campaigning, shall accrue to his/her benefit,” read the SC decision.

However, Perena said the motorcade was but a couple of jeepneys used by her supporters who accompanied her when she filed her candidacy.

No speech was made by any person nor was there “grandstanding for the purpose of raising the hands of the candidates in the motorcade,” she added.

The SC decision was written by Associate Justice Minita Chico-Nazario.

Concurring in the ruling were Associate Justices Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, Renato Corona, Antonio Eduardo Nachura, Teresita

Leonardo-de Castro, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo and Roberto Abad.

Dissenting were Chief Justice Reynato Puno and Associate Justices Leonardo Quisumbing, Antonio Carpio, Conchita Carpio-Morales, Presbiterio Velasco Jr., Arturo Brion, and Diosdado Peralta.

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