THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has dismissed the disqualification case filed against Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago Wednesday.
The first division said the petitioner's allegations are “unsupported by any competent evidence” allowing them to rule in favor of Santiago.
Santiago's lawyer Romulo Macalintal said the performance of his client as a senator already proves that she is not suffering from a mental incapacity.
“There is no doubt that she can perform the job of a senator...What they are doing is just a form of political harassment because until now, they cannot present any proof of their allegations,” said Macalintal.
Macalintal reiterated that petitions like those filed against Santiago are just a waste of time in the part of the poll body.
The disqualification case was filed by lawyer Nombraan Pangcoga who earlier said that the senator is of "unsound mind."
“Her public appearances prove that what she says is out of place,” said Pangcoga during the hearing on the case at Comelec.
In a press statement, the petitioner filed the case based on following grounds: culpable violation of the constitution, graft and corruption and unexplained wealth, obstruction of apprehension andd prosecution of a criminal offense, unparliamentary behavior, and giving unwarranted benefits to her family members.
Pangcoga's camp has also asked the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) Hospital, Psychology and Psychiatric Department for original and certified true copies of Santiago's clinical and medical records.
“In an attempt to prove Respondent's (Santiago) alleged insanity or incompetence, Petitioner (Pangcoga) has asked Us (Comelec) to subpoena the psychiatric record of Respondent, or otherwise to subject her to psychiatric tests. To Our mind, this all the more buttresses Our conclusion that Petitioner has no evidence to support his claims. At the risk of being repetitious, it is Petitioner's duty, not this Commission's, to provide proof of his allegations. We simply cannot allow the processes of this Commission to be used as instruments for a fishing expedition,” the decision of the first division stated.
Santiago is seeking reelection as a member of the Senate in the May 2010 elections.
She is running under six political parties including her own, People's Reform Party. Other parties who offered her a slot include: the Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP)-Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino (PDP)-Laban coalition party of former President Joseph Estrada, Nacionalista Party of Manny Villar, administration party Lakas-Kampi-CMD of Gilbert Teodoro, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) of Senator Edgardo Angara and the Nationalist People's Coalition.
In a related development, boxing icon Manny Pacquiao has failed to convince the Comelec that his rival Roy Chiongbian lacks the required one year residency to be able to run for any elective post in the country.
Pacquiao is seeking for a congressional seat in the province of Saranggani in the coming May elections.
In a six-page ruling, the Comelec first division headed by Commissioner Rene Sarmiento together with Commissioners Gregorio Larrazabal and Armando Velasco said Chiongbian was able to meet the one-year residency requirement and is, therefore, eligible to run for the May local polls.
“His (Chiongbian) regular presence in Kling is corroborated by witnesses who attest to respondent’s physical presence in Kling plantation in Saranggani province,” said Velasco.
The decision further stated Chiongbian’s camp has proven that he has not abandoned his residence in Saranggani despite his businesses in Manila.
To recall, Pacquiao’s local political party, the People’s Champ Movement (PCM), filed a petition to disqualify Chiongbian last December on the grounds that he is not a resident of the province thus making him ineligible to seek the post.
But Chiongbian admitted that he has not lived in Purok 1, Barangay Kling in Kiamba, Saranggani just as he stated in his Certificate of Candidacy (COC) and he only arrived in town last June.
Chiongbian is member of a known political clan in Saranggani while his brother, Edwin, is the incumbent representative of the province. Both of his parents were former governors.
Pacquiao meanwhile run for congressman in May 2007, but lost to
General Santos City Representative Darlene Antonino Custodio. (Kathrina Alvarez/MSN/Sunnex)