Citizens can seek to disqualify epal politicians

Posted at 09/13/2012 2:11 PM | Updated as of 09/13/2012 2:11 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Annoyed with an “epal” poster of a politician? Citizens have long been armed with legal powers that could lead to the disqualification of the politician should he or she decide to run in the next elections.

Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said a citizen who is “unjustifiably annoyed or vexed” by an apparently premature campaigning may file a criminal case against potential candidates.

This could be under the crime of unjust vexation, which is committed if “the offender’s act caused annoyance, irritation, torment, distress or disturbance to the mind of the person to whom it is directed,” said Macalintal, citing a Supreme Court decision.

A person found guilty of unjust vexation is penalized with imprisonment from one day to 30 days under the second paragraph of Article 287 of the Revised Penal Code.

He also cited Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Regulation No. 99-006, which penalizes any person who “illegally posted or installed any signage, billboards, posters or streamers” without the corresponding permit from the city or municipal government.

He said this can be adopted by other local government units pursuant to Republic Act No. 9003 or the Anti-Littering Law.

“Once these persons are convicted, then they can be disqualified from seeking any elective position under Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code which disqualifies any person convicted ‘of a crime involving moral turpitude’ to be a candidate or to hold any public office,” Macalintal explained.

He said “moral turpitude” is something done that is contrary to justice and good morals.

“For sure, there is enough time from now until May 2013 to file such criminal cases against these persons and disqualify them from being a candidate under Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code,” he said.