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Lawmaker seeks end to senators' ‘balik pwesto’ tactic
By Cielito M. Reganit

The penchant of some senators of running for other elective positions during their incumbency without forfeiting their seats in the Senate may soon come to an end.

House Bill 1349 filed by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, if enacted into law, mandates the automatic resignation of all elective officials upon filing of their certificates of candidacy during their term of office for positions other than to which they have been elected or holding in a permanent capacity.

In filing the bill, the veteran lawmaker noted that the practice of “balik pwesto” has been constantly enjoyed by senators and barangay officials who want to run for higher office, with the knowledge that they can continue their term if they lose in the presidential and mid-term elections.

“This practice of allowing some defeated candidates to reassume their position after the election must be jettisoned from our statute books,” Lagman said.

The practice started when the Fair Election Act or RA 9006 repealed Section 67 of the Omnibus Election Code which mandated the ‘ipso facto’ resignation of elective officials upon filing of their certificates of candidacy to other positions.

Lagman noted that the repeal was a rider because it was not relevant to the purpose of the Fair Election Act which was to regulate election propaganda and had no basis in the substantive provisions of the Act.

A 'rider' is an additional provision added to a bill under the consideration by a legislature that have little connection with the subject matter of the bill.

Riders are usually created as a tactic to pass a controversial provision that would not pass as its own bill.

Lagman said that the present practice of reclaiming one’s position violates the equal protection clause because only a group of elected officials are benefited – senators and barangay officials.

“An elective official must serve out his term consistent with the people’s mandate. Ethics in politics demands automatic forfeiture for incumbents running for a different position while their terms subsist,” he said.

He likewise said that running for another position during one’s incumbency must be considered as abandonment of an elective position.

“This unethical practice is anathema for fair elections. It must be purged from our law books,” Lagman said. (PNA)

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