REPRESENTATIVE Neri Colmenares (Bayan Muna party-list) was in Bacolod City last week. He mentioned the Congress approved bill that will give a P2,000 per month increase in the monthly pension of the 1.9 million retired Social Security System (SSS) members. This bill is now awaiting the approval and signature of President Benigno Aquino III.

Colmenares said that under the law, the president has 30 days to sign the bill or allow it to lapse into law.

Actually, the president has a third possibility. Under Article VI, section 27 (1) of the Constitution the president can also veto the bill and send it back, with his objections, to the House of Representatives.

I believe it is possible that this will happen. The president will probably seek the views of the SSS and these views are unlikely to be fully supportive of the bill. The law governing the SSS is Republic Act 8282 and Colmenares’ bill seeks to replace this Act.

Colmenares says that senior citizens are hoping the president does not wait for the 30 days and sign it now so they can get the increase in their pensions for Christmas or the New Year. Pensioners should not bank on this.


The Supreme Court (SC) has ruled the Commission on Elections (Comelec’s) “No Bio No Boto” policy to be unconstitutional. Quite right. The SC has, however, given Comelec a “non-extendible” 10-day period to reply. I hope Comelec accepts the SC finding without demur.

Comelec Chairman Bautista’s response was disappointing. He talked in terms of the difficulties of accommodating the apparently millions of additional voters whom the SC saved from Comelec’s unconstitutional disenfranchisement. In a democracy the more who vote, the greater the legitimacy of the elected candidates.

Comelec had no place in putting up unconstitutional barriers to make it more difficult for people to vote. Government officials may like to make the populace dance, but this philosophy is inappropriate when it comes to elections.


The disqualification cases against Senator Grace Poe’s candidacy for President need to be resolved as soon as possible.

Article VII, Section 4 says that the SC, sitting en banc, shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the elections, returns, and qualifications of the Preisdent or Vice President, and may promulgate its rules for the purpose.

Article VI, Section 17 says that the Senate and the House of Representatives shall each have an Electoral Tribunal which shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the elections, returns, and qualifications of their respective members.

Article IX, Section C1(1) says Comelec shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests relating to the elections, returns, and qualifications of all elective regional, provincial, and city officials.

This means that it is difficult to see why Comelec is judging Poe’s presidential candidacy when it has no Constitutional authority to do so. Are Comelec’s findings of any relevance if the SC is the sole judge? I do not think so.

Last week, Senate President Franklin Drilon has suggested that the SC is very busy these days and perhaps it should consider working through the Christmas and New Year holidays. A visibly irked SC spokesman, Theodore Te, replied, in effect, that Drilon should mind his own business.

But the clock is ticking. Poe’s ratings in the opinion polls suggest that she is a strong candidate. This means that her exclusion would effectively disenfranchise many millions of voters if the exclusion decision were made near the time of the polls. If she is to be excluded, let it happen soon so that voters have time to consider the remaining candidates.

Former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has raised some horrendous possibilities including whether the issues are not resolved, the elections are held, Poe wins, and then is disqualified. Should the second place be declared the winner? Or will there be a special election?

Both possibilities are too awful to contemplate in a democracy. Whatever is done in this instance would destroy the legitimacy of the appointed candidate.

We cannot let this happen!