Santiago wants public officials liable for past actions

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Saturday, March 28, 2015


SENATOR Miriam Defensor Santiago has filed a bill seeking to make public officials liable for crimes committed during their past terms of office.

Santiago filed Senate Bill 2716 aims to amend Republic Act (RA) 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, to make any elective official liable for any violation committed during a prior term despite re-election.

The bill rejects the view that re-election is tantamount to condonation of their past crimes.

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Santiago filed the bill following claims by the camp of Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. that he should not be prosecuted over the alleged overpricing of the P1.6-billion Makati City Hall Building 2 since the alleged anomalies occurred during his previous term of office.

"That is a cross-eyed simplification of the problem. The first qualification for a public office should be honesty or integrity. It is wrong to equate the re-election of a public official to condonation of his past criminal offenses," Santiago said.

Binay's lawyers cited the 1959 Supreme Court decision in Pascual v. Provincial Board of Nueva Ecija that prohibits the disciplining of an elective official for a wrongful act committed during his immediately preceding term of office.

Santiago said finds it "very disturbing" that the Pascual ruling was reiterated in 2010 case of Salumbides v. Ombudsman. The two cases were cited as bases for the principle of condonation.

"The result would be ludicrous. Any public official will free to commit any crime, including plunder, and thus winning re-election, if it means that his previous crimes are condoned," she said.

Said said a public official who fails to perform his duty with integrity, honesty, discipline, and uprightness must be removed in order to safeguard the public from his abuses.

"Those who betray such trust by being dishonest, inefficient, and corrupt fail to meet the stringent standards," Santiago said. (Sunnex)

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