Samar solon wants convicts instantly disqualified from seeking public office

Robie de Guzman   •   August 30, 2019   •   1119

Courtesy : HOR Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – A lawmaker has filed a bill in the House of Representatives seeking for the immediate disqualification of convicted individuals, including those found guilty of subversion, moral turpitude and corruption, from seeking or holding public office even while their case appeal is pending.

In filing House Bill No. 92, Samar First District Representative Edgar Mary Sarmiento proposes to amend certain provisions of the Omnibus Election Code, particularly Sections 12 and 68, to automatically disqualify anyone from seeking or holding any government post upon conviction by the anti-graft court.

“Most people do not know this but individuals already convicted by the Sandiganbayan are still free to run for public office just so long as they file for an appeal of their ruling,” he said in a Facebook post.

“These individuals should prove their innocence first before being allowed to run for public office,” he added.

The bill seeks to disqualify an individual from being a candidate if a court decides that he or she is guilty of subversion, insurrection, rebellion, any offense having a penalty of more than 18 months, or for a crime of moral turpitude, even if the case is on appeal.

It also proposes to bar an individual from seeking public office if he or she is found guilty by any court and is penalized with temporary or perpetual disqualification, even if the case is on appeal.

Those found guilty by any court of the following shall also be disqualified from being a candidate even while the appeal is pending:

  • Given money to corrupt voters
  • Committed acts of terrorism to enhance candidacy
  • Spend amount in excess of what is allowed by the law
  • Received prohibited contributions
  • Other election offenses under the Omnibus Election Code

The individual may be deemed qualified again if the case is overturned and the high court decides that he is not guilty of charges.

Sarmiento believes the proposal is a reasonable prohibition for those who want to serve the public, especially those who are looked up to as leaders of the community.

“Crimes of graft, corruption and the more serious of offense of plunder are betrayals of public trust. While people deserve a second chance, the bar for good behavior must be set higher for those who are sworn to serve the public with integrity, dedication and competence,” he said.

PNP nabs 5 violators on first day of election gun ban

Robie de Guzman   •   January 10, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Five persons were arrested on the first day of the implementation of the election gun ban on January 9, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported.

In a statement, the PNP said two were nabbed at checkpoints in Metro Manila and three in Zamboanga Sibugay.

Zamboanga Peninsula Police Regional Office identified the apprehended individuals as Wendell Datoy, and Earon Jay Mascara, and his 17-year old companion.

Police said Datoy was arrested after he failed to show any authorization when he was found carrying a caliber .45 pistol during an inspection at a checkpoint along Barangay Poblacion in Zamboanga Sibugay around 12:50 a.m.

Mascara and his companion, who were in possession of a replica model 1911, were nabbed after they were intercepted by police in Barangay Sta. Cruz, Kabasalan in Zamboanga Sibugay around 4:15 a.m.

In Metro Manila, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief, Police Major General Vicente Danao Jr. identified the two arrested individuals as Jerwin Gubaton and John Paul Dunlao.

Gubaton was initially intercepted at a checkpoint along C4 road, Brgy. Bagumbayan North, Navotas City for not wearing a face mask but when he alighted from his tricycle, a caliber .38 tucked under his waistband fell to the ground.

“Gubaton was promptly arrested and booked for violation of Republic Act 10591 and the Omnibus Election Code,” police said.

Dunlao was initially stopped at a separate checkpoint along Rotonda, Amparo Subdivision, Brgy. 179, Caloocan City for not wearing a helmet, but police found a caliber .38 with four live ammunition in his possession as he was reaching for the motorcycle papers from his belt bag.

“These early results of our strict implementation of COMELEC Resolution No. 10728 more or less describe the overall aggressiveness of police operations against violators of election law,” PNP chief Police General Dionardo Carlos said.

The gun ban took effect on January 9, which marks the start of the period for the May 2022 national and local elections. The election period will last until June 8.

Carlos reminded the public that during the nationwide gun ban, the permit to carry firearms outside of residence for civilians is suspended.

Law enforcers, including police officers, are exempted from the ban “as long as they bring their issued firearms while in uniform and in the performance of official duty.”

“It should be understood that only on-duty police personnel, clearly identified as members of the PNP are allowed to carry their firearms,” Carlos said.

“Any citizen may report to the PNP any police personnel abusing or violating this rule. We want to maintain discipline among our personnel,” he added.

Carlos also reminded police personnel that COMELEC checkpoints are limited to visual search only.

“But if the need arises, especially under conditions authorized by law, the police may conduct further inspection,” Carlos said.

“Any person with firearms will be courteously asked to show a copy of a valid Certificate of Authority that exempts him/her from the gun ban. If none, then the individual can be a candidate for violating the COMELEC Rules,” he added.

Persons violating the gun ban may be charged with illegal possession of firearms, in accordance with Comelec Resolution 10741 that mandates the establishment of checkpoints and prohibition of bearing, carrying, and transporting firearms or other deadly weapons.

Comelec supports bill penalizing nuisance candidates

Maris Federez   •   October 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has announced its support for the proposed bill that seeks to penalize those who will be declared ‘nuisance candidates’.

Under House Bill 9557 is the provision that will mete out a penalty of Php100,000 to a nuisance candidate and his supporter.

Director Maria Norina Tangaro-Casingal, head of Comelec Law Department said that under Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code, a candidate is considered a nuisance if he is found guilty of making a mockery of the elections, running to cause confusion for bearing the same name with another candidate, and showing no real intention to run for a position.

“We support the imposition of the fine, the P100,000,” Casingal said.

“And we also would like to propose that those who have been declared as nuisance candidates be disqualified for running for 2 successive elections […] They can no longer substitute, your honor, if they have been declared as a nuisance candidate,” she insisted.

Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms chairperson Imee Marcos, however, asked Comelec first of a more detailed data on previous candidates who were declared a nuisance for the panel to further study the issue.

“We should have the data and the experience to compare. Nagdadahan-dahan din tayo kasi ayaw din ng Supreme Court na palibhasa […] sinasabi na hindi masyadong di kilala o walang pera dahil o walang partido, hindi naman basta-basta i-disqualify,” Marcos said.

Election lawyer, Atty. George Garcia, on the other hand, said that rather than meting out penalties or fines straightaway, the law must be amended first to clear out the details on the merits of declaring somebody a nuisance candidate.

Garcia believes the penalties will cause undue concern or fear among ordinary Filipinos who may have intentions of running for any government position.

“Minsan, halimbawa sinabi lang na ‘meron ka na bang political history? Nakatakbo na ba ikaw kahit barangay chairman man lang o naging barangay tanod?’ Hello? Nasaan sa batas natin na dapat naging barangay tanod o barangay chairman o kung anuman? Pero ‘yon, maniwala kayo’t sa hindi, pagka naghi-hearing patungkol sa nuisance, nasasabi ‘yun. Nababanggit. Pero wala naman sa batas ‘yon,” Garcia said.

“Kung ‘yon pa rin, yung Sec. 69 pa rin na nagde-define ng nuisance candidate, tapos bigla ka lang magdadagdag ng fine at saka ng perpetual disqualification to hold public office, halimbawa, sa aking palagay, parang magbo-border na siya sa violation ng equal protection clause under the Constitution,” he further said.

Ateneo School of Government executive director Professor Edmund Tayao also underscored the need to closely look into the proposed bill.

“There are those who really want to offer themselves as an alternative candidate to the public; albeit, however, they don’t have the resources to conduct a respectable campaign. Kasi yun ‘yung definition natin ng nuisance candidate. Nade-declare ka’ng nuisance candidate kung nag-file ka ng candidacy mo, kandidato ka, but it turns out hindi ka naman makakapagkampanya nationally. This has to be looked into closely.”

Meanwhile, Comelec is set to release a tentative list of candidates for the 2022 national and local elections on October 29. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Province-wide manhunt launched vs. NPA responsible for Samar cops ambush

Marje Pelayo   •   December 11, 2020

 MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief General Debold Sinas on Friday (December 11) has ordered a province-wide manhunt operation against suspected New People’s Army (NPA) combatants responsible for the ambush of a police team in Marabut, Samar.

According to Eastern Visayas PNP Regional Director Ronaldo De Jesus, the policemen were escorting a detainee back to the police station from a court hearing on Friday afternoon when they were ambushed in Brgy. Logero.

The attack killed one of the policemen and wounded the detainee.

Sinas condemned the attack and instructed De Jesus  to mount a “hot pursuit of the murderous group responsible for this affront to peace.”

Tactical and maneuver forces in Eastern Visayas have been mobilized to hunt for the suspects and Sinas vowed “justice for the victims of this atrocity.”

De Jesus identified the fatality as Police Corporal Earl Hembra.

He was accompanied by Patrolman Joseph Ricky Gadores Gacgacao and PCpl. Jerome Distrajo, his fellow members of the Marabut Municipal Police Station, when the attack happened. 

They were escorting a detainee, Nestor Lumagbas Jr. who was wounded in the incident.

“The PNP joins the Filipino civil society in strongest condemnation of this latest manifestation of disregard for human life by the communist New People’s Army with its continued use of internationally-outlawed landmines to further propagate the communist cause to topple government and seize power thru terror and violence,” the PNP Chief noted. MNP / Raymund David

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