By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Reelectionist Senator Aqulino “Koko” Pimentel III on Monday said voters should be left to decide whether or not to consider honesty in electing a candidate to public office.
While he believes that honesty is an important factor in public office, Pimentel said the voters cannot be forced to consider it in choosing their preferred candidates for the May 13 midterm elections.
The Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) senatorial candidates was asked in a televised interview to comment on Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio’s saying that “honesty should not be an issue” during elections.
“Well, honesty can be used by the voter as his or her criteria. Because objectively speaking, the qualifications for running are in the Constitution. But since public office is public trust, it will depend on you what are your standards, what are your criteria, to determine who you can trust with the public office,” Pimentel told ANC’s Headstart.
The former Senate chief, whose bid for reelection was endorsed by Duterte-Carpio’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), defended the presidential daughter and said she, as a lawyer, was well aware of the constitutional requirements to be a senator.
“Yeah, people should call for that (honesty). But we should also understand that if some people can trust a someone who has not been too honest, then that is his decision,” he said, adding he, too, would vote for people he trusts.
Pimentel, however, maintained that honesty, to him, is as important as other qualifications for public office.
“Yes, it’s (honesty) important to me. As far as I’m concerned, its important to me. But I cannot force it to be an issue for everybody,” he responded when pressed to particularly clarify his view.
Duterte-Carpio issued the statement last week in response to the criticisms of opposition slate “Otso Diretso” against some of the HNP-supported candidates for supposedly lying about school records, and using public funds for campaign paraphernalia.
She then clarified that the remark was made to “help” the opposition bets to keep up in the senatorial race.
Article 4, Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution states that, “No person shall be a Senator unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines and, on the day of the election, is at least thirty-five years of age, able to read and write, a registered voter, and a resident of the Philippines for not less than two years immediately preceding the day of the election.”
While the provision did not mention honesty as a qualification for a senator, Article 2, Section 27 mandates the state to “maintain honesty and integrity in the public service and take positive and effective measures against graft and corruption.”
Article 11 also states that “Public officers and employees must, at all times, be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency; act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.” #MatalinongBoto2019