Supreme Court reverses Penera Decision on Premature Campaign

November 26, 2009

In a Resolution promulgated last 25 November 2009, the Supreme Court granted Rosalinda A. Penera’s Motion for Reconsideration and reversed its 11 September 2009 Decision disqualifying Penera as mayor of Sta. Monica in Surigao del Norte. In finding for Penera, the Supreme Court ruled that election offenses can be committed by a candidate “only” upon the start of the campaign period. This clearly means that before the start of the campaign period, such election offenses cannot be so committed. Thus:

“In layman’s language, this means that a candidate is liable for an election offense only for acts done during the campaign period, not before. The law is clear as daylight — any election offense that may be committed by a candidate under any election law cannot be committed before the start of the campaign period. In ruling that Penera is liable for premature campaigning for partisan political acts before the start of the campaigning, the assailed Decision ignores the clear and express provision of the law.

The Decision rationalizes that a candidate who commits premature campaigning can be disqualified or prosecuted only after the start of the campaign period. This is not what the law says. What the law says is “any unlawful act or omission applicable to a candidate shall take effect only upon the start of the campaign period.” The plain meaning of this provision is that the effective date when partisan political acts become unlawful as to a candidate is when the campaign period starts. Before the start of the campaign period, the same partisan political acts are lawful.

The law does not state, as the assailed Decision asserts, that partisan political acts done by a candidate before the campaign period are unlawful, but may be prosecuted only upon the start of the campaign period. Neither does the law state that partisan political acts done by a candidate before the campaign period are temporarily lawful, but becomes unlawful upon the start of the campaign period. This is clearly not the language of the law. Besides, such a law as envisioned in the Decision, which defines a criminal act and curtails freedom of expression and speech, would be void for vagueness.

Congress has laid down the law — a candidate is liable for election offenses only upon the start of the campaign period. This Court has no power to ignore the clear and express mandate of the law that “any person who files his certificate of candidacy within [the filing] period shall only be considered a candidate at the start of the campaign period for which he filed his certificate of candidacy.” Neither can this Court turn a blind eye to the express and clear language of the law that “any unlawful act or omission applicable to a candidate shall take effect only upon the start of the campaign period.”

The forum for examining the wisdom of the law, and enacting remedial measures, is not this Court but the Legislature. This Court has no recourse but to apply a law that is as clear, concise and express as the second sentence, and its immediately succeeding proviso, as written in the third paragraph of Section 15 of RA 8436, as amended by RA 9369.”

4 Responses to “Supreme Court reverses Penera Decision on Premature Campaign”

  1. as far as i know,the reason why we “used” to prohibit tv and radio ads before campaign periods was to level the playing field for all candidates in an election.(famous, rich, poor or what not) i think that it should still be that way now. with regard to election campaign, i don’t see any difference as to the effects of political ads done before or after the allowed period.(campaign period). it will still have the same impact on those who have seen or heard such ads. the names of the candidates will still be imprinted in the minds of the listeners/seers, thus elevating themselves over other candidates. if you we can’t call that campaigning, then i don’t what to call it anymore..the worst part is, the only ones who could benefit from such opportunity are those who can sustain long hours of tv and radio commercials..(we have obviously departed away from the protection of candidates during elections and we have welcomed an age of elections which caters only those who “have” and who “can”. and i am not talking about skills and talents on leadership and governance..

    what was in the minds of our law makers when they debated, “scrutinized?” and voted on this law?.

  2. the SC decision implies that there is no such offense as premature campaigning since their argument is based on acts or offenses done during the campaign period. automatically, it excludes acts done prior to campaign period.

    the election field will remain unfriendly to those who don’t have the resources, thus, there will be no even playing field (as usual). we can expect that our would-be leaders belong to the elite. how about those poor candidates who could be more qualified and holds better intentions for entering public service than them?

    this would also lead us to a more complex scenario of electioneering even in the very first day of their assumption to office (if they aim for a reelection after 3 years).

    likewise, the decision sparing appointed officials from resigning their post after filing their candidacies makes the game even utterly unfair.

    this is disgusting, for me not all legal acts are ethical…

  3. we are in the 3rd world country, woohoo! be thankful 😛

  4. so, the law is clear as a daylight indeed, the word “premature campaign” no longer exist.

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