by Aries Rufo, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak | 12/01/2009 4:35 PM
MANILA - Cabinet officials and other appointive public servants participating in next year’s elections do not have to resign from their respective posts even if they have filed their certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the May 2010 polls, the Supreme Court (SC) ruled Tuesday.
The decision was penned by Justice Antonio Eduardo Nachura.
Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal had earlier questioned a resolution issued by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) declaring that government officials are considered resigned once they file their COC.
The Comelec scheduled an earlier than usual filing of COCs—between Nov. 20 to Dec. 1—for purposes of printing the ballots for the automated polls.
Representing two Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials, Macalintal filed a petition and prohibition against Comelec from implementing its resolution.
The resolution was based on Sec. 13 of Republic Act (RA) 9369 or the Automation Law, which states that “any person holding a public appointive officer shall be considered ipso facto resigned from office and must vacate the same at the start of the day of COC.”
But Macalintal, in the petition, argued that such provision runs counter to another section that says “any person who files his COC shall be considered as a candidate at the start of the campaign period.”
Macalintal argued that the requirement discriminates against government officials vis-a-vis the elective officials who are not obliged to give up their posts when they run for public office.
He argued that the provision is in violation of the Constitution’s equal protection clause.
Sought for his comment on the SC ruling, Macalintal dismissed suggestions that appointive officials have undue advantage over their rivals. He said appointive officials are now on “equal footing” with elective officials who could be their potential rivals in the May 2010 polls.
“The elective officials are not required to resign,” he noted.
The SC ruled that appointive officials are only considered resigned at the start of the official campaign period.
A number of Cabinet officials have already resigned in preparation for the May 2010 synchronized polls, among them, Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) chief Ralph Recto, and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro.
as of 12/01/2009 4:43 PM