Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento said Bill 92 is the first of several measures he would file to support the administration’s campaign against corruption.
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‘Officials convicted of graft must be barred from post’
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - August 19, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Elective and appointive officials convicted of graft and corruption by the Sandiganbayan should immediately be barred from holding public office, Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento said yesterday.

“Despite President Duterte’s tough and no-nonsense drive against graft and corruption, the government is barely making progress in its campaign because of the circuitous legal process that allows officials convicted of corruption or even plunder too much leeway to avoid jail time and even seek public office,” he said.

He shares the President’s frustration over pervasive corruption in the bureaucracy “because the law itself gives too much tolerance to officials already convicted for various forms of graft and corruption.”

Sarmiento has filed Bill 92, which seeks to amend the election law to automatically disqualify anyone from seeking or holding any government post once convicted of crimes where the penalty imposed includes temporary or perpetual disqualification from holding public office, even if there are still options for appeal.

He proposed the inclusion of a provision that “should the order or judgment imposing the sentence be brought up on appeal, the person so sentenced shall still be disqualified until such time the appeal reverses the conviction and acquits such person.”

The bill also provides, “Any person convicted or sanctioned for any offense in any court, tribunal or body shall likewise be disqualified from being declared a candidate or, if elected, from holding public office pending appeal of such conviction or sanction, where the penalty imposed includes temporary or perpetual disqualification.”

Sarmiento said his proposed changes in the Omnibus Election Code “would prevent people who are convicted of graft and corruption from holding any public office by simply delaying the full execution of their conviction through a series of long and circuitous appeals and other delaying tactics.”

He cited the case of several senators, members of the House of Representatives, including a former Samar lawmaker, and other officials who remain scot-free despite conviction by the Sandiganbayan for plunder and graft and corruption.

These convicted officials, he added, have managed to successfully delay the implementation of their conviction by filing appeals with the anti-graft court and later with the Court of Appeals and eventually with the Supreme Court.

Such process takes years, during which the convicted official could transfer from one public office to another and could exercise influence over their cases, he said.

“We are losing the war against graft and corruption because there’s just too much room to circumvent the law. Grafters and plunderers have amassed so much wealth that they can afford to delay the process for as long as they want,” Sarmiento stressed.

He said Bill 92 is the first of several measures he would file to support the administration’s campaign against corruption.

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