SC overturns decision to disqualify Camarines Norte gubernatorial bet

Marje Pelayo   •   September 13, 2019   •   522

MANILA, Philippines – Voting 8-6, the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday (September 10) granted the petition of Camarines Norte gubernatorial candidate Edgardo Tallado who questioned his disqualification by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the last May 19 elections.

Tallado was allowed to run after the SC issued a Status Quo Ante Order (SQAO) following Comelec’s decision to disqualify him from the race.

The SC decision, penned by Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin, stated that the Court En Banc overturned the Comelec’s decision to disqualify Tallado to run in the gubernatorial race.

The SC Public Information Office will issue a copy of the decision through its website once they receive the official copy from the Office of the Clerk of Court En Banc.

Concurring with Bersamin were Justices Diosdado Peralta, Alexander Gesmundo, Andres Reyes Jr., Jose Reyes Jr., Amy Lazaro-Javier, Henry Jean Paul Inting and Rodil Zalameda.

Dissenting were Justice Francis Jardeleza, Antonio Carpio, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Marvic Leonen, Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, and Rosmari Carandang.

Comelec had disqualified Tallado to run due to what the poll body says as questionable years of service as governor of Camarines Norte, pointing out that should they grant Tallado’s certificate of candidacy, it would have already been his 4th term as governor.

The law provides that gubernatorial post is only limited to three consecutive terms.

However, Tallado took his case to the Supreme Court questioning the decision of the Comelec, insisting that he is still eligible to run for the May 2019 polls as he was suspended from office in 2015 and was reinstated only in 2018.

Tallado won as the governor of Camarines Norte after garnering 149,002 votes against his rival Cathy Barcelona-Reyes who had 104,635 votes.

Comelec has yet to comment on the matter as it yet to receive a copy of the SC decision. — Marje Pelayo

Supreme Court says no date yet on release of 2019 Bar Exam results

Robie de Guzman   •   April 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court clarified it has not yet set any date for the release of the 2019 Bar Examination results.

The high court issued the statement following information circulating on social media and other platforms about the Bar Exams results.

“There is a spurious document currently circulating in social media and in various electronic messaging platforms stating that the results of the 2019 Bar Examinations will be released on a certain date,” said 2019 Bar Chairperson SC Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe.

Perlas-Bernabe said the Court en Banc has yet to meet to decide on the date of release of the Bar Exams results.

“As chairperson of the 2019 Bar Examination, I categorically state that the information is false and that the Court En Banc is yet to meet to decide on the date of the release of the results,” she said.

“The Supreme Court will only release official documents and information relative to the Bar Examinations only through its Public Information Office,” she added.

She assured the public that the incident is being investigated and that those found responsible for the circulating false information shall be dealt with accordingly.

Comelec suspends voter registration until March 31 due to COVID-19 threat

Robie de Guzman   •   March 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has suspended the voter registration until March 31 amid the rising number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in the country.

In a statement, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez announced that the suspension will begin on Tuesday, March 10.

“As a response to the growing threat to public health posed by COVID-19, voter registration has been suspended by the Comelec until the 31st of March 2020,” he said.

Jimenez said the suspension takes effect nationwide, encompassing voter registration conducted in all Comelec offices in districts, cities, and municipalities, as well as all satellite registration activities.

“The public is advised to take all necessary precautionary measures to limit their exposure to the possibility of COVID-19 infection,” he added.

The poll body opened the voter registration for the 2022 national elections last January. It was initially set to run until September 30, 2021.

As of posting time, the Philippines has 33 confirmed coronavirus cases.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier declared a public health emergency amid the rising cases of COVID-19 infections in the country.

The DOH also raised Code Red Sublevel 1 after confirming the country’s first case of coronavirus local transmission.

Senators ask SC to define Senate’s role in treaty abrogation

Robie de Guzman   •   March 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III and five other senators on Monday, March 9 filed a petition urging the Supreme Court (SC) to rule on whether or not the Senate’s concurrence is necessary in the abrogation of a treaty previously concurred in by the upper chamber.

In a 56-page petition for declaratory relief and mandamus, Sotto and Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Ralph Recto, Franklin Drilon, Panfilo Lacson and Richard Gordon asked the SC to declare that a treaty previously concurred in by the Senate should require the concurrence of at least two thirds of its members upon its withdrawal.

The lawmakers also requested the SC to order the executive branch to send the withdrawal notation to the Senate for votation.

The petition was filed after the Department of Foreign Affairs on February 11 notified the United States of its intention to scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement, which was signed between Manila and Washington in 1999.

The deal outlines the guidelines about the treatment of their troops when visiting the US or the Philippines. It includes provisions on visa and passport policies for US troops and the American government’s right to retain jurisdiction over its personnel, among others.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the final termination of the VFA following the US’ move to cancel the visa of his ally, former National Police chief and now Senator Ronald Dela Rosa. Duterte has also repeatedly criticized the US for its ‘disrespectful’ actions including meddling in the country’s internal affairs.

The military pact will be effectively terminated on August 9 or 180 days from the US’ receipt of the notice of termination.

Named respondents in the petition were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.

“As such, the Senate has until August 9, 2020 or the 180th day from the Notice of Withdrawal within which to question the unilateral withdrawal by the President from the VFA,” the petition stated.

“(The) Senate brings the present petition before the Honorable Court to fully and finally settle the issue of the requirement for concurrence by at least two-thirds of all members of the Senate in cases where the Philippines, through the executive department, decides to withdraw from, or terminate a treaty that was duly concurred in by the Senate,” the petition stated.

The senators, however, clarified that they do not intend to undermine the President’s prerogative of implementing the country’s independent foreign policy.

They added that the petition “merely seeks” to subject the notice of withdrawal to the proper deliberative process by the Senate, as required by Section 21, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution.

“Specifically, the petition seeks to address the issue of whether the foregoing constitutional provision requiring the concurrence of at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate also applies to termination of or withdrawing from treaties that have been validly ratified by the President and concurred in by the Senate,” the lawmakers said.

They cited the petition filed by members of the Senate minority bloc in May 2018, urging the high court to review the constitutionality of the executive department’s unilateral revocation of the Rome Statute.

“The recurrence of the issue in such a short period of time highlights the urgency for a definitive ruling on the matter for the demarcation and constitutional limits of the fundamental powers of government,” the senators said.

“The unilateral revocation by the executive of any treaty or international agreement without Senate concurrence violates the principle of checks and balances and separation of powers enshrined in the 1987 Constitution,” they added.

Last week, 12 senators voted in favor of adopting Resolution No. 337 which seeks to ask the SC to rule on the issue. Seven senators abstained from the petition.

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