New year, new hope
A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - January 4, 2019 - 12:00am

Welcoming the New Year 2019 is really quite different because it is not as noisy as in previous New Year celebrations. Indeed, as we said goodbye to 2018 and welcome 2019, there were some few and rare moments of silence or less noise which provided us with time to reflect and reminisce on the events and happenings of the passing year. And in those rare moments of silence and reflection, we can see that, as in previous years, our life is full of successes and failures, ups and downs, joys and sadness, pains and comforts, sickness and health. But during our celebration this year, the feeling that prevails seems to be more of extreme gratitude simply for still being alive. Indeed we should thank God for giving us life; we should thank God for everything including the setbacks, hardships and trials that come our way which are also blessings that will eventually help us in our journey toward the next life of eternal bliss.

Perhaps it is not amiss to mention here that in the closing days of 2018, starting Christmas Eve Dec. 24 up to Dec. 28, I was confined at a hospital for some ailment which I used to ignore. This is the first time indeed that our family spent Christmas Eve, Christmas day and even our wedding anniversary, in a hospital room. Even then, the entire family including the grandchildren still had a Christmas party in such a small place. And I was pleasantly surprised that we had a closer and happier celebration that resulted in a stronger bonding among the children and grandchildren. Truly everything that happens in our life is a blessing so we should thank God for everything.

Hence we face the coming year 2019 with lots of optimism although there is also a bit of pessimism. First of all, this is an election year so it is another opportunity for us to voice out our sentiments and our thoughts and views through our votes particularly on the kind of government we have. Personally, this election year is more important and meaningful because one of our sons, Joseph Peter (Jopet) Sison has decided to run for Vice Mayor of Quezon City. I am really glad that he decided to enter politics again because I know, or ensure, that he looks at “Public Office as a Public Trust, and must at all times be accountable to people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice and lead modest life” (Article X1 Section 1, Constitution).

Modesty and relationship aside, I really believe Jopet is qualified for the position he is seeking. He is a law graduate and has been a councilor of Quezon City for three terms during which he has introduced the most number of ordinances approved by the City Council. So with his legal background and experience as former councilor, he really appears to be fit to preside over the sessions of the Council as vice mayor of the city.

His main platform and program of government are also quite laudable and beneficial to the people especially in Quezon City. They are focused more on the less fortunate and marginalized families particularly the informal settlers who need more social services like decent and safe abode at the very place they are now residing, if legally possible. This program will indeed ensure that the the less fortunate in the city are not displaced and relocated in far flung areas where they will have to start all over again. Of course, Jopet also has programs and projects beneficial to all the people of Quezon City, rich or poor alike. They are all geared toward attainment of peace, progress and prosperity in the city.

In this regard, some people think that by announcing and endorsing Jopet as vice mayor, I am already campaigning for him. In fact Jopet himself has been going around the city introducing himself as a candidate and even putting up posters and streamers. The question raised here is whether these moves are in violation of the Election Law for campaigning prematurely. The Supreme Court has already ruled in the case of Penera vs. Comelec and Andanar, that they are not against the law. In said case Penera has already filed her certificate of candidacy for mayor of Santa Monica, Surigao del Norte. But even before the official start of the campaign period, she participated in a motorcade going around the municipality announcing her candidacy as mayor. So when she was elected as mayor, a petition for her disqualification was filed against her.

Initially the SC said that she is indeed guilty of premature campaigning because her acts after the filing of the certificate of candidacy (COC) and prior to the campaign period is a promotion of her election as a candidate, hence premature campaigning for which she may be disqualified. But upon her motion for reconsideration, the SC reconsidered its decision and ruled in her favor. The Supreme Court said: “One who files a certificate of candidacy is not a candidate until the start of the campaign period.” “Any person who files his certificate of candidacy within the period shall only be a candidate at the start of the campaign period for which he filed his certificate of candidacy. The SC even quoted the dissenting opinion of Justice Antonio Carpio to its original decision, saying that “A candidate refers to any person aspiring for or seeking an elective public office who has filed a certificate of candidacy by himself or through an accredited political party, group or coalition of parties. However it is no longer enough for a person to be considered a candidate because any person who files his COC within the filing period shall only be considered a candidate at the start of the campaign period for which he filed his COC.” This is in accordance with Section 15, RA 8436 as amended by RA 9369.

So going around now and announcing his intention to run for vice mayor is not premature campaigning. Hopefully,  Jopet succeeds in his campaign, although there is still a little bit of pessimism in the air because the traditional politicians will once more use lots of money to win votes especially of the needy. While guns and goons may have been minimized, gold is still being rampantly used.

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