Press Release
February 28, 2010


Cabinet members who are running for elective posts were urged yesterday not to hang on to their posts by resorting to legal technicalities.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. issued the statement in reaction to reports that certain Cabinet members opted to stay put while awaiting for the decision of the Supreme Court on the Malacañang's appeal on its ruling last week that Cabinet members and other appointive public officials are deemed automatically resigned upon filing of the certificate of candidacy.

The overstaying Cabinet members have also been supposedly advised by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo not to leave their posts yet pending the final resolution of the issue by the high tribunal.

"That is terrible," Pimentel said of the Cabinet members' refusal to relinquish their posts. "The moment an appointive official files is certificate of candidacy, his resignation is automatic. He need not wait for an order or advice from the President."

Those who were supposedly directed by the President to stay put despite their letters of resignation were Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, Presidential Management Staff chief Hermogenes Esperon and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority director general Augusto Syjuco. Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul Gonzalez said he has not tendered his resignation but would rather wait for the high court's action on the motion for reconsideration of the Office of the Solicitor General.

Pimentel said the Supreme Court's ruling is in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution and the Omnibus Election Code that seek to prevent appointive public officials from electioneering while in office. The court reversed its earlier decision that appointive public office need not resign from their posts even after filing their certificate of candidacy until the start of the official campaign period.

Commenting on the President's supposed order for the Cabinet members concerned not to leave their posts yet, Pimentel said they should have the delicadeza to quit immediately to avoid the impression that they are taking advantage of the resources of their respective agencies for their candidacies.

"That is just an alibi to enable them to use the resources and funds of their offices for their own purposes," he said.

The senator from Mindanao said Mrs. Arroyo's supposed directive was preposterous because this contradicts a remark that she reportedly made during a Cabinet meeting in Palawan last week that Cabinet members who have not resigned despite their candidacies are considered "mere guests" in the Cabinet.

Moreover, he noted that after the SC issued the latest ruling, Commission on Elections chairman Jose Melo had publicly stated that the Cabinet members concerned should immediately resign instead of holding on to their posts by making an appeal to the high tribunal.

It was learned that when Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard bearer Gilbert Teodoro campaigned in Batangas recently, he was accompanied by Secretary Eduardo Ermita whose aides allegedly used the vehicles of the Office of the President during the provincial sortie. Ermita is running for congressman in Batangas.

Pimentel said the compulsory resignation is also intended to avoid a situation wherein the public officials concerned could no longer effectively discharge their official duties because they have to devote part of their time to their election campaign.

The opposition leader also voiced the opinion that Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes may be compelled to resign if he is indeed the number one nominee of the party-list organization l-United Transport Kowalisyon (l-Utak) to Congress.

Pimentel admitted though that the situation of Reyes is unique because he is a not a direct candidate as a sectoral representative but just a nominee of a party-list group.

He also pointed out that Reyes' continued stay in the Cabinet is untenable because he has been repeatedly bypassed by Congress. Under the rules of the Commission on Appointments a Cabinet member who has been bypassed twice is deemed to have rejected.

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