Santiago files bill to ensure liability of erring officials

By , on March 29, 2015

"Iron Lady of Asia" Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago (Photo courtesy of @SenMiriam on Twitter)
“Iron Lady of Asia” Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago (Photo courtesy of @SenMiriam on Twitter)

MANILA — Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago recently filed a bill that would ensure administrative liability of erring officials event after re-election.

Santiago added that allowing public officials to escape liability will result to a “ludicrous” situation.

The bill she recently filed will ensure that public officials will be held liable for whatever illegal acts they have committed during their preceding term.

This is following the statement of the camp of Makati Mayor Junjun Binay saying that he should not be held liable for the irregularities in the construction of the Makati City Hall Building II which occurred during his previous term in 2010-2013.

Binay specifically cited a Supreme Court ruling which stated that public officials could not be removed from office because of a misconduct committed during a prior term.

The ruling adds that the act of reelection of the said official condones the misconduct of the reelected official.

Santiago, however said that the ruling only provides a blanket of defense that will allow politicians to escape liability from committing misconduct during their previous term by getting reelected.

“By merely asserting the doctrine of condonation, erring elective officials are automatically given a clean slate once reelected. Thus, there is a need to evaluate this doctrine in light of the express constitutional mandate that public office is a public trust,” she said.

She also said that being condoned of previous crimes, simply by means of reelection,  will make officials feel free to commit a crime.

“The result would be ludicrous. Any public official will feel free to commit a crime, including plunder, and then win reelection, if it automatically means his previous crimes are condoned,” she said.

“That is a cross-eyed simplification of the problem. The first qualification for a public office should be honesty and integrity,” Santiago added.

Santiago’s bill then aims to insert a new section in the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act stating that “any elective official shall be liable for any violation of this act committed during a prior term despite reelection.”

Santiago also said in her explanatory note how it has been a well-established policy that public servants should have the highest virtues of integrity, honesty, discipline and uprightness.