Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Appointive officials should still resign, Comelec maintains

12/02/2009 | 04:52 PM

Even if the Supreme Court has decided to let appointive officials stay in office while seeking elective posts in 2010, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday maintained that they should still resign for ethical issues.

"I think it comes down to a question of ethical considerations. I think for a lot of people, it will be a much better image if you give everything up," Comelec spokesman James Jimenez told reporters at a press conference in Manila.

Jimenez issued the statement after the high court on Tuesday ruled that officials can run for elective posts while holding on to their current appointive positions.

The decision in effect nullified an earlier poll body resolution stating that such officials are deemed resigned upon filing their certificate of candidacies (COCs).

The ruling came out on the last day of the filing of COCs, which ran from November 20 until midnight of December 1.

"That gives a very different complexion on the elections now. One of the things we’re concerned about is those appointed officials who actually resigned from their positions in order to run for the coming elections," Jimenez said.

On Tuesday, political science professor Benito Lim said the ruling would be disadvantageous to the contenders who are not in powerful positions. [See: SC: Appointive officials may hold on to posts after filing COCs]

"Kasi yung mga nakaluklok puwede nilang gamitin, at talaga ginagamit nila yung resources ng opisina nila sa pangangampanya at nasa kanila ang lahat ng advantage (This is because those already in position can use the resources of their offices for their campaign, and they have all the advantages)," Lim said.

Among the appointive officials who resigned in order to run in the 2010 polls were Lakas-Kampi-CMD’s standard bearer former Defense chief Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. and senatorial aspirants Ralph Recto, the former head of the National Economic Development Authority, and Vicente "Tito" Sotto III, who used to be chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board.

On the other hand, appointive officials like Cabinet Secretary Silvestre Bello, who is seeking a senatorial seat in 2010, did not resign from his post after learning of the SC ruling.

Even Environment Secretary Jose "Lito" Atienza, who is running for mayor in Manila, refused to relinquish his post. "I will resign at the right time...I will just focus on my work here at the [Department of Environment and Natural Resources] first," Atienza said in a radio interview.

No complaints yet

Jimenez said they have yet to receive any complaint about the recent ruling, but added that they are not discounting the possibility that they would be receiving some soon.

"I find it personally sad but it was on the last day of filing so again that might be something else that people might want to discuss. We’re not hearing from them yet but we might get from them over the next few days," he said.

In an apparent address to concerned appointive officials running in the 2010 polls but still holding on to their posts, Jimenez said: "Do you want the people to know that you’re still an appointed official with the resources of your office that you can dispose of or do you want them to see you sacrifice everything for public service?"

Still, Jimenez concedes that the bottom line is that what the SC declares is law. "If the Supreme Court says that this is how you interpret the law, then this is how it is true. And who interprets what the law says? The Supreme Court does."

A good thing about the ruling? Jimenez said it will at least be easier to monitor if the appointive officials are using government resources in their campaign.

"If appointed officials remain in office, it will be much easier to track whether or not they are using the resources of their office rather than they resigned and they were able use funds simply because of influence," he said. - RSJ/KBK, GMANews.TV


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