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Ousted Sta. Monica Mayor questions SC Ruling

SAYING that the complaint against her was neither convincing nor substantial, the former mayor of Santa Monica town in Surigao del Norte has questioned the Supreme Court decision that ordered her dismissal from office for premature campaigning in the 2007 elections. In a 46-page motion for reconsideration, former Mayor Rosalinda Penera argued that she could not be disqualified as she was not yet a candidate when she led a motorcade a day before the actual campaign period started.

“Ms. Penera was not yet a candidate at that time of the incident under section 11 of Republic Act 8436 as amended by section 13 of Republic Act 9369,”the petition said.

Last September 11, the Supreme Court en banc, in an eight to seven vote, affirmed the ruling of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that found Penera guilty for violating the rule on premature campaigning under Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code.

Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code states that: “It shall be unlawful for any person whether or not a voter or candidate, or any party or association of persons, to engage in an election campaign or partisan political activity, except during the campaign period.”

But in her appeal, Penera pointed out that the Omnibus Election Code has already been repealed by Republic Act 9369, or the Poll Automation Law with respect to the definition of a candidate and the rule on disqualification for premature campaigning.

“If the decision stays or is not reconsidered, it is as if Congress did not introduce any amendment. Subsequent legislation repeals previous inconsistent legislation whether it expressly declares such repeal or not,” she explained.

Penera claimed that the “motorcade” was but a couple of jeepneys used by her supporters who accompanied her when she filed her candidacy.

She also claimed that no speeches soliciting votes or raising the hands of the candidate have been made during the motorcade.

The High Court, in its 34-page decision penned by Associate Justice Minita Chico-Nazario, declared, among others, that Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code, which bans electioneering outside the campaign period, remains in effect despite the implementation of Republic Act 9369.

“We cannot stress strongly enough that premature campaigning is a pernicious act that is continuously threatening to undermine the conduct of fair and credible elections in our country, no matter how great or small the acts constituting the same are,” the High Court decision said. (William B. Depasupil, MT)

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