APPOINTED government officials running for public office in the May 2010 polls are now considered resigned after the high court reversed yesterday its Dec. 1, 2009 ruling.

The Supreme Court (SC) en banc voted 10-5 to overturn its earlier ruling—Eleazar Quinto vs. the Commission on Elections (Comelec)—that allowed appointed executives to pursue their bids without leaving their positions.

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Section 66 of the Omnibus Election Code states: “Any person holding a public appointive office or position, including active members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and officers and employees in government-owned or controlled corporations, shall be considered ipso facto resigned from his office upon the filing of his certificate of candidacy.”

Among the local candidates affected by the new ruling is Cebu City education consultant Joy Augustus Young, who is running for vice mayor.

In a telephone interview last night, he said he is not bothered by the decision because he had intended anyway to resign on March 20 as a member of the Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) board of directors.

Mayor Tomas Osmeña appointed him as MCWD board vice chairman in 2005 along with former city administrator Juan Saul Montecillo, who was elected board chairman.

“I’m resigning in a month’s time. Regarding my consultancy, there’s no problem because I was not appointed. I have a contract with the City,” Young said.

The City Council last Wednesday approved the resolution authored by City Councilor Nestor Archival Sr. renewing the contract of Young effective Jan. 1 to June 30, 2010.

Vice Mayor Michael Rama had to call for a recess first to discuss in a huddle with the city councilors the resolution.

That was after City Councilor Gerardo Carillo asked whether election rules would be violated if they approved the measure.

After a few minutes, the session resumed and Young’s consultancy was renewed without further discussion.

“As far as the Comelec is concerned, they have filed their certificate of candidacy, they are now candidates.

In other words, it’s not the Comelec that will adjust to their positions. It is their positions that will adjust to their candidacy,” said Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.

Jimenez said they are awaiting a copy of the decision but they respect the judgment of the high court.

“If the Supreme Court thinks this is the best course of action, then we will defer to the judgment of the Supreme Court,” he said.

With the reversed ruling, the government should now look for the replacements of its appointive officials who have finalized their candidacy.

Cabinet officials who are still holding their positions but have filed their certificates of candidacy (COCs) include Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Presidential Management Staff Head Hermogenes Esperon and Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap.

The four Cabinet heads are running for seats in Congress in May.

Devanadera is eyeing a congressional seat in the first district of Quezon, Ermita in the first district of Batangas, Esperon in sixth district of Pangasinan and Yap in the third district of Bohol. (Sunnex)/RHM)