Lawyer says SC ruling on Camarines Norte governor sets  ‘dangerous precedent’

Published September 16, 2019, 4:57 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Rey Panaligan

A lawyer said on Monday (September 16) the Supreme Court’s (SC) ruling that allowed Edgardo A. Tallado to run for governor of Camarines Norte in last May’s elections despite his disqualification by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for having completed his three-term limit “sets a dangerous precedent.”

Edgardo Tallado (Camarines Norte Police Provincial Office / MANILA BULLETIN)
Edgardo Tallado
(Camarines Norte Police Provincial Office / MANILA BULLETIN)

In a statement, Archim Yanto – lawyer for the petition to disqualify Tallado – said the SC ruling, if not reversed, will now allow politicians to extend their Constitutionally mandated term limit by way of self-induced graft and administrative cases “just to break the continuity of their tenure and reset” their term of office.

Last week, the SC’s public information office (PIO) released an advisory of the High Court’s ruling that reversed the disqualification decision of the Comelec, and allowed Tallado to run for Camarines Norte governor, the post he eventually won for in the last May elections.

The PIO said the ruling that granted Tallado’s petition was arrived at through an 8-6 vote during the SC’s full court session last September 10, and written by Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin.

Yanto said the SC ruling gives politicians the “reset button” to be able to perpetuate themselves in power.

Yanto said Tallado was on his third term as governor of Camarines Norte when he filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for governor.  He said the Comelec cancelled Tallado’s COC with a ruling that he can no longer run for office because he has completed the maximum tenure for elective government officials.

He pointed out that Tallado insisted that his term of office was interrupted when he was suspended and eventually dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman for “misconduct, oppression and abuse of authority” and should not be counted in his tenure.

Based on Tallado’s insistence, the SC ruled that there was an involuntary interruption to office after he was dismissed from the service by the Ombudsman, Yanto said.

He said the SC decision “is setting a dangerous legal precedent because apart from the fact that it favors someone who was dismissed from office by the Ombudsman for a wrongdoing, it has also created a jurisprudence which would favor similar cases in the future.”

“The message of this decision is very clear. You can commit any wrongdoing and even have yourself dismissed by the Ombudsman and still rewarded with a fresh term of office,” he said.

He added that the SC decision on Tallado “rewrote the existing jurisprudence on term limits and opened the floodgates for self-induced cases just to reset an elective official’s term of office.”

“This ruling is a reset button for anyone who wants to seek a fourth, a fifth or even a sixth term of office. One can simply file a case to secure a suspension or even dismissal to be able to run again even after completing three terms in office. That’s really absurd…,” he stressed.

He said the petitioners to disqualify Tallado will file a motion to reconsider the SC decision.