Erap resigned as president, can’t run again — lawyer

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada gave up his presidency and is prohibited by the Constitution from seeking it again, veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said yesterday.

In a statement, Macalintal sought to clarify reports that Estrada could still run for president since the Supreme Court (SC) has upheld his election as mayor in 2013 despite a plunder conviction in 2007 that disqualified him from holding public post.

He said that Estrada’s supporters are claiming that the Manila mayor could still run in the coming elections because he “did not finish his term of six years as President or his service was interrupted when he was forced to leave Malacañang in 2001.”

However, Macalintal said such circumstance is “not a valid ground… because of the prohibition under Section 4, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, which bars ‘any re-election’ of an elected President.”

He cited the assertion of Fr. Joaquin Bernas, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission (ConCom), that “re-election means either election immediately after a term or election even after some interruption.”

He also quoted former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Christian Monsod, another ConCom member, as saying, “you only get one shot to serve as elected president. There should be absolutely no second election at all.”

While it is true that Estrada did not finish his six-year term of office as president, Macalintal said “this was due to his ‘voluntary resignation’ from the said office.”

“That his resignation was voluntary was clearly ruled upon by the SC when Estrada himself filed a petition before the high court to clarify the status of his having left Malacañang in January 2001,” he said.

“In the case of Estrada versus Desierto, the SC held on March 2, 2001, that ‘Estrada resigned as President and he cannot feign ignorance of this fact when he told his then Executive Secretary Ed Angara: ‘Ayoko na, masyado nang masakit.’ The SC held that ‘Ayoko na’ are words of resignation, which are high grade evidence that Estrada has resigned,” he added.

The election lawyer said the high court also cited Estrada’s statement that he “was leaving Malacañang and acknowledging the oath-taking of (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) as President of the Republic without reservation about its legality.”

The SC concluded that such statement “was Estrada’s valedictory, his final act of farewell. His presidency is now in the past tense,” he added.

Macalintal pointed out that Estrada’s contention that he was just “coerced” to leave the presidency “was likewise debunked by the SC, there being no evidence to vitiate the voluntariness of his resignation as ‘no harm, not even a scratch, was suffered by him, the members of his family, and his Cabinet, when they left Malacañang to justify a conclusion that he was coerced to resign.’”

“Thus, Estrada’s ‘voluntary resignation’ from the presidency in 2001 cannot be a valid ground to justify another bid for the same position in 2016,” he stressed.

“Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution clearly provides that ‘voluntary renunciation of the office cannot be considered an interruption in the continuity of the service for the full term for which he was elected,’” he added.

SC spokesman Theodore Te has said the high court’s ruling last week resolved only the former president’s qualification for the Manila mayoral post but not the issue of his eligibility to run again for the presidency.











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