MANILA, Philippines – Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has described the reelection argument of controversial Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay as ludicrous.
According to Binay’s argument, his reelection completely absolves him of any liability over the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall parking building. Thus, he should not be prosecuted over the alleged overpricing since the anomalies occurred previously.
For Sen. Santiago, this explanation is a cross-eyed simplification of the problem.
Because of this, the feisty senator filed Senate Bill No. 2716 which seeks to amend Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices act. Santiago wants an elected official to be held liable for any violation of the law, even when the violation was committed during a prior term.
Sen. Santiago pointed out that the first qualification of a public official should be honesty or integrity; thus, it is wrong to equate the reelection of a public official to absolution of his past criminal acts.
In her note, she questioned the so-called doctrine of condonation, which is being invoked by the lawyers of Mayor Binay.
Santiago said that the doctrine should be evaluated since it provides a blanket defense for elected officials to evade liability just by securing a reelection; considering that the term of a local elective official is only three years.
She emphasized that reelection alone cannot be considered as a basis to absolve an elective official for previous illegal acts he committed since to do so would run counter to the State’s duty to maintain honesty and integrity in public office, and to keep public officials accountable to the people. The doctrine of condonation also collides with the character of public office as a public trust.
She expressed her stand that any official who betrays public trust by being dishonest, corrupt, and inefficient fail to meet the stringent standards found in the Constitution and must be removed from office.