THE Supreme Court (SC) dismissed Tuesday a petition filed by Akbayan Representative Rissa Hontiveros-Baraquiel seeking to stop President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from running for Congress in his hometown in Pampanga.

Court administrator and spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said the court en banc unanimously ruled to deny the issuance of a temporary restraining order against the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

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Finding no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Comelec, Marquez said the justices did not anymore belabor the issue by coming out with a lengthy decision, rather than a minute resolution.

Marquez said the implication of the Court’s ruling is that there is no longer any legal impediment for Arroyo to run for a lower elective position despite that her term as President has yet to expire on June 30, 2010.

“If we are going to use this as basis, then that is the implication,” he clarified.

When asked why a landmark case such as this was reduced to a one-page resolution of the SC, Marquez said it was well within the discretion of the justices on how they will dispose of a case.

“I think there was also urgency as well, with the election getting near, and the court did not want any issues left hanging,” he said, adding that the petitioner may still file for a motion for reconsideration of the court’s ruling.

In her petition filed on February 4, Hontiveros asked the SC to issue a TRO enjoining the Comelec from implementing a resolution dated January 28, 2010 that included the name of Arroyo in the ballots to be printed for the second district of Pampanga.

The lawmaker had earlier filed a disqualification case against Arroyo before the Comelec.

When the poll body issued its assailed resolution, Hontiveros said she decided to no longer file a motion for reconsideration and elevate the case directly to the SC because of the “transcendental importance” of the case.

She said the Comelec Second Division committed grave abuse of discretion in ruling that Arroyo was not prohibited by the Constitution from running for a lower position.

“The Comelec erred in its reading of Section 4, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution. We believe that provision makes two prohibitions – an absolute ban on any re election for an incumbent President, and a prohibition on re-election for the presidency against an individual who succeeded as President and who have served as such for more than four years,” Hontiveros said.

Section 4, Article VII of the charter states that “The President and the Vice-President shall be elected by direct vote of the people for a term of six years which shall begin at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date, six years thereafter.”

“The President shall not be eligible for any re-election. No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time,” the law further provides.

Hontiveros said Arroyo can use the entire resources and machinery of the State to influence the result of the elections or to give herself undue advantage, noting that in 2009 alone, the President spent P459 million in infrastructure projects in her hometown alone, and distributed Philhealth ID cards to almost 1,000 residents in Guagua, entitling them to free medical services for one year.

“If presidential candidates are protected from the muscle-flexing of an incumbent president running for re-election for the same position, then the same protection must be extended to candidates for lower positions,” she added, citing Article 3 Section or the equal protection clause of the Constitution. (JCV/Sunnex)