Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has filed a bill that perpetually disqualifies convicted plunderers, even if pardoned by the president, from holding public office.
In Senate Bill 2568, Santiago said that “the Act seeks to make it impossible for one who has been convicted by final judgment of the crime of plunder to hold public office.”
The bill seeks to amend Section 5 of Republic Act 7080 or the Anti-Plunder Law to state that should a public officer be convicted by final judgment of plunder, aside from losing all retirement or gratuity benefits under the law, “no pardon may extinguish the accessory penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification.”
RA 7080 defines the crime of plunder as the accumulation of ill-gotten wealth with an aggregate amount of P50 million by a public official.
“The theft of such an amount from the nation is unforgivably criminal, and no person who is capable of such an act has a place in public office,” Santiago said.
“It should then be unthinkable for a public servant, who was convicted by final judgment of the crime of plunder, to be allowed to hold office once more,” the senator added. “Public office is not the venue to test the limits of one’s ability to turn from his evil ways.”
The bill was filed by the senator on January 13 this year, a week before the Supreme Court junked the disqualification case of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, who was convicted of plunder but was pardoned in 2007 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
While she did not mention anyone who successfully returned to office after being convicted of plunder, Estrada certainly made the cut following his successful mayoralty bid in 2013 and when he ran for president in 2010.
“Recent developments have shown however, that it is possible, by some legal maneuverings, for one who has been convicted of the heinous crime of plunder to run and be re-elected into office,” Santiago noted.