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SC asked to nix Arroyo Congress bid

February 4, 2010 11:22am

(Updated 11:43 a.m.) A senatorial candidate asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to disqualify President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from seeking a House seat in Pampanga's second district.

At about 10 a.m., Akbayan Rep. Ana Theresia "Risa" Hontiveros lodged her petition before the high court a week after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) junked the disqualification case she filed against Mrs. Arroyo.

"(Mrs. Arroyo's) candidacy in Pampanga offends the time-honored principle of fair play in our democracy and assails the spirit and text of our Constitution," she said.

The LP is pitting a relatively unknown local leader, Adonis Simpao, against Mrs. Arroyo in the congressional race for the province's second district. [See: Unknown Adonis challenges the gods of Pampanga]

In her petition, Hontiveros also asked the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order on the inclusion of Mrs. Arroyo's name in the ballots for the second district.

"A local candidate is only allowed to spend P1.50 per voter, while GMA spent P459 million in infrastructure projects in her district last year alone. A congressional candidate cannot have campaign posters bigger than 2 feet by 3 feet, but (Mrs. Arroyo) can produce– using government funds – tarpaulins that are half as wide as Commonwealth Avenue," Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros said she decided to elevate the case to the Supreme Court instead of asking the Comelec to reconsider its decision due to lack of time and because the issue was "of transcendental importance."

She maintained that Mrs. Arroyo could not run for congresswoman, insisting that Section 4, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution imposes "an absolute ban on any re-election for an incumbent President, and a prohibition on re-election for the presidency against an individual who succeeded as President and who have served as such for more than four years."

Case won't prosper

But allies of President Arroyo belittled the move, believing that such will not prosper anyway.

"We believe that the Supreme Court will sustain [the] Comelec's earlier decision against her (Hontiveros)," said deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar in a text message to GMANews.TV.

Presidential political adviser Prospero Pichay, for his part, said the filing of the petition was just "one way of propping up her (Hontiveros) ratings."

In addition, lawyer Romulo Macalintal said: "Hindi naman iyan mapagbibigyan ng SC dahil wala namang paglabag sa Konstitusyon. Sayang lang ang panahon niya, panahon ng Comelec at ng SC. There are more meritorious cases that the SC or the Comelec should be focusing on. Sana hindi na sila inaabala ng mga walang kakuwenta-kuwentang petitions."

(The SC will not grant her request since the Constitution has not been violated. She is just wasting her time, and that of the Comelec and the SC. There are more meritorious cases that the SC or the Comelec should be focusing on. The Comelec and the SC should not be bothered with useless petitions.)

No constitutional prohibition

In its decision on Hontiveros' petition, the Comelec's second division ruled that there was no constitutional provision barring Mrs. Arroyo from running in the May polls.

"If it is in the intention of the Constitutional Commission to ban the President from running for any future elective position, it could have so worded the pertinent constitutional provision in an unequivocal manner," the poll body said in its resolution.

If it were meant as such, the Comelec said that the provision would have been worded as: "The President shall not be eligible for any reelection to the same position and for election to any other elective position." - with Mark Merueñas/RSJ, GMANews.TV
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