The legality and morality of term-sharing
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - October 20, 2020 - 12:00am

There is no question that any agreement to share the term of an elected office is legally defective. A public office, being a public trust, is beyond the commerce of man. It is not only illegal. It is immoral. It cannot stand the test of any legal and judicial scrutiny. Much less could it pass the more exacting standards of ethics and morality. But in politics, everything is negotiable. In a world filled with sins, even the Lord can be sold for 30 pieces of silver.

When King Digong of the mighty Palace, and purportedly, Mayor Inday of the new Mecca, or shall we say, the new promised land, Davao, and the crown daughter and the putative presidential successor, presumptively brokered the so-called Blood Compact between the Sultan of Taguig and the Lord of Marinduque, the treaty of term sharing was sealed with a tripartite handshake. That was supposed to be the gentlemen's agreement. The Sultan of Taguig was to be the master of the House for 15 months. The Lord of Marinduque was supposed to be ushered in with a peaceful transition to occupy the high office as the fourth most powerful god in Mount Olympus for 21 months.

Being a brilliant lawyer, the Sultan of Taguig apparently concocted a plan to abrogate the blood compact, using two plausible ways out. First, the forces of pandemic are compelling the current leadership to stay on and avoid a disruption as the nation is at the height of its war against the coronavirus. In law, this can be considered an unexpected intervening occurrence that justified a change in the agreement or even a complete abrogation thereof. Second, the general appropriations act for 2021 is an urgent and vital piece of legislation that had to be completed otherwise, its derailment and delay may ultimately result to a re-enacted budget that, as recent history proved, would be highly inimical to the general interest of the nation and people.

There is a third reason, which the Sultan of Taguig refuses to use precisely because he is an excellent lawyer. His late father, an American-educated master of laws and doctor of laws would have disapproved, and his elder sister, a UP lawyer would have dissented from. This is the legal defense that the term-sharing agreement could not be implemented precisely because it was illegal “per se” and “ab initio”. It is against the law by itself and from the very beginning. Why can't these be used by lawyers? Elementary, my dear Watson, as Sherlock Holmes would say. How can Alan Peter assail an agreement to which he is a principal party? He is restrained by the principle of estoppel. He who comes to court to assail a contract must do so with clean hands. His hands are unclean. He is in “pari delicto”.

Alan Peter is a brilliant lawyer from Ateneo. Lord Alan Jay is also a bright lawyer (I should know. I was his professor) from UST. The one who brokered the deal was King Digong from San Beda. And Crown Princess Sara from San Sebastian-Recoletos. Alan Peter was molded by the Jesuits and taught the Ignatian virtues of morality and principled bravery. King Digong must have been exposed to the Benedictine principles of ethics and morality. And Crown Princess Sara, I am sure was inculcated with the strict discipline of the Agustinian Recollects. And so, my question to all of them is this: Were there some moral moorings of the term-sharing agreement?

If I were the judge, I would say: Since all of them are guilty. I will not decide the case. I will leave the parties where I found them. They deserve the problem that they have by themselves created. And they have to solve it themselves. Only, I will counsel them to go back to their teachers of legal ethics and review their canons and code of professional responsibility.

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