SC: Arroyo can run for Congress

SC: Arroyo can run for Congress
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court has posed no objection to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s unprecedented run for a congressional seat in her home province of Pampanga.

The high court en banc yesterday issued a minute resolution that merely said the Commission on Elections “did not commit any grave abuse of discretion” when it threw out Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros’ petition to disqualify Ms Arroyo from running for representative of Pampanga’s second district in the May elections.

Court spokesperson Midas Marquez said the high tribunal did not issue a full court resolution on Hontiveros’ appeal to reverse the Comelec 2nd Division ruling that allowed a situation where an incumbent president is running for a lower office.

He said it was “within the discretion of the high court” not to come out with a full resolution.

Marquez also cited the urgency of coming out with a decision quickly with the elections just around the corner.

“As much as possible we don’t want some issues left hanging for those running for office,” he said.

Hontiveros, who is running for senator under the Liberal Party, brought her disqualification petition against Ms Arroyo to the Supreme Court without waiting for the Comelec en banc to decide on her petition against the 2nd Division ruling.

She argued that the Comelec en banc’s final decision on a matter of “transcendental importance” might come too late as the campaign period for local elections will start on March 29.

She claimed that the Comelec 2nd Division committed grave abuse of discretion when it ruled that Ms Arroyo was not prohibited by the Constitution from running for a lower position. She cited Section 4 Article VII of the Constitution which prohibits the President from running for “any reelection.”

“We believe that provision makes two prohibitions—an absolute ban on any reelection for an incumbent president and a prohibition on reelection for the presidency against an individual who succeeded as president and who has served as such for more than four years,” she said in her petition.

Asked if the Supreme Court was not in fact setting a precedent for future presidents who would run for lower office after their term, Marquez said: If we’re going to use this (minute resolution) as basis, that is the implication. Dona Z. Pazzibugan

LP bet to Noynoy: Give up hacienda

LP bet to Noynoy: Give up hacienda

LUCENA CITY, Philippines—A CANDIDATE RUNNING FOR senator under the Liberal Party asked the party’s standard-bearer, Sen. Benigno Aquino III, to give up his family’s ownership of Hacienda Luisita and distribute the estate to farmers.

Rep. Risa Hontiveros, of the Akbayan party-list group, said she remained unequivocal on her stand that Hacienda Luisita, the more than 7,000-hectare estate owned by Aquino’s family in Tarlac and Pampanga, should be distributed to farmers.

“I believe that the issue in Hacienda Luisita is one big, important and valid agrarian issue,” said Hontiveros.

“I already told the lawyers of Hacienda Luisita in one congressional hearing that SDO (stock distribution option) is no longer allowed (by a new law that extended the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with reforms),” Hontiveros said at a press conference here Tuesday.

She said Aquino has been holding a series of dialogues with the Cojuangco clan, his maternal relatives, to find ways how to resolve the issues hounding Hacienda Luisita.

“I and all others, who fought for the passage of Carper (CARP with reforms), will follow it (Hacienda Luisita issue) up with Senator Noynoy to finally close the issue behind Hacienda Luisita,” she said.

She added that “Senator Noynoy is on record here that if he becomes president, he will implement Carper. We will continue to engage Senator Noynoy on this issue and I have full belief in him.”

When asked what kind of closure she expects, Hontiveros replied: “Land distribution to actual tillers is the right closure because it is one prime agricultural land.”

Hontiveros said the decisive point in the history of Hacienda Luisita will be for the next President to fully implement Carper.

The SDO was a clause in the 1988 Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) initiated by the late President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino that allowed landowners to give farmers shares of stock in a corporation, instead of actually subdividing the land and distributing these to farmers.

On Monday, two militant groups supporting farm workers in Hacienda Luisita challenged Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to reopen the investigation of the SDO scheme.

Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon