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post, that of the Mayor of the City

Risos-Vidal vs. Comelec of Manila.

Restoration of Pardonees Right
to run for public office Petitioner Risos-Vidal filed a Petition
for Disqualification against Estrada
Facts: before the Comelec stating
that Estrada is disqualified to run
In September 12, 2007, the for public office because of his
Sandiganbayan convicted former conviction for plunder sentencing
President Estrada for the crime of him to suffer the penalty of
plunder and was sentenced to reclusion perpetua with perpetual
suffer the penalty of Reclusion absolute disqualification. Petitioner
Perpetua and the accessory relied on Section 40 of the Local
penalties of civil interdiction during Government Code (LGC), in relation
the period of sentence and to Section 12 of the Omnibus
perpetual absolute disqualification. Election Code (OEC).
On October 25, 2007, however,
former President Gloria Macapagal The Comelec dismissed the petition
Arroyo extended executive for disqualification holding that
clemency, by way of pardon, to President Estrada’s right to seek
former President Estrada, explicitly public office has been effectively
stating that he is restored to his restored by the pardon vested
civil and political rights. upon him by former President
Gloria M. Arroyo.
In 2009, Estrada filed a Certificate
of Candidacy for the position of Estrada won the mayoralty race in
President. None of the May 13, 2013 elections. Alfredo
disqualification cases against him Lim, who garnered the second
prospered but he only placed highest votes, intervened and
second in the results. sought to disqualify Estrada for the
same ground as the contention of
In 2012, Estrada once more Risos-Vidal and praying that he be
ventured into the political arena, proclaimed as Mayor of Manila.
and filed a Certificate of Candidacy,
this time vying for a local elective Issue:
May former President Joseph deliberately intend to restore
Estrada run for public office despite former President Estrada’s rights of
having been convicted of the crime suffrage and to hold public office,
of plunder which carried an orto otherwise remit the penalty of
accessory penalty of perpetual perpetual absolute disqualification.
disqualification to hold public Even if her intention was the
office? contrary, the same cannot be
upheld based on the pardon’s text.
The pardoning power of the
Yes. Estrada was granted an President cannot be limited by
absolute pardon that fully restored legislative action.
all his civil and political rights,
which naturally includes the right The 1987 Constitution, specifically
to seek public elective office, the Section 19 of Article VII and Section
focal point of this controversy. The 5 of Article IX-C, provides that the
wording of the pardon extended to President of the Philippines
former President Estrada is possesses the power to grant
complete, unambiguous, and pardons, along with other acts of
unqualified. It is likewise unfettered executive clemency, to wit:
by Articles 36 and 41 of the Section 19. Except in cases of
Revised Penal Code. The only
impeachment, or as otherwise
reasonable, objective, and
constitutional interpretation of the provided in this Constitution, the
language of the pardon is that the President may grant reprieves,
same in fact conforms to Articles commutations, and pardons, and
36 and 41 of the Revised Penal
remit fines and forfeitures, after
conviction by final judgment.
It is insisted that, since a textual
examination of the pardon given to He shall also have the power to
and accepted by former President
grant amnesty with the
Estrada does not actually specify
which political right is restored, it concurrence of a majority of all the
could be inferred that former
President Arroyo did not
Members of the Congress. A close scrutiny of the text of the
pardon extended to former
President Estrada shows that both
xxxx the principal penalty of reclusion
perpetua and its accessory
Section 5. No pardon, amnesty, penalties are included in the
pardon. The sentence which states
parole, or suspension of sentence
that “(h)e is hereby restored to his
for violation of election laws, rules, civil and political rights,” expressly
and regulations shall be granted by remitted the accessory penalties
the President without the favorable that attached to the principal
penalty of reclusion perpetua.
recommendation of the
Hence, even if we apply Articles 36
Commission. and 41 of the Revised Penal Code,
It is apparent from the foregoing it is indubitable from the text of the
constitutional provisions that the pardon that the accessory
only instances in which the penalties of civil interdiction and
President may not extend pardon perpetual absolute disqualification
remain to be in: (1) impeachment were expressly remitted together
cases; (2) cases that have not yet with the principal penalty of
resulted in a final conviction; and reclusion perpetua.
(3) cases involving violations of
election laws, rules and regulations The disqualification of former
in which there was no favorable President Estrada under
recommendation coming from the Section 40 of the LGC in
COMELEC. Therefore, it can be relation to Section 12 of the
argued that any act of Congress by OEC was removed by his
way of statute cannot operate to acceptance of the absolute
delimit the pardoning power of the pardon granted to him
While it may be apparent that the
The proper interpretation of proscription in Section 40(a) of the
Articles 36 and 41 of the LGC is worded in absolute terms,
Revised Penal Code. Section 12 of the OEC provides a
legal escape from the prohibition –
a plenary pardon or amnesty. In
other words, the latter provision the reasons for the enactment,
allows any person who has been usually introduced by the word
granted plenary pardon or amnesty "whereas." Whereas clauses do not
after conviction by final judgment form part of a statute because,
of an offense involving moral strictly speaking, they are not part
turpitude, inter alia, to run for and of the operative language of the
hold any public office, whether statute. In this case, the whereas
local or national position. clause at issue is not an integral
part of the decree of the pardon,
The third preambular clause of and therefore, does not by itself
the pardon did not operate to alone operate to make the pardon
make the pardon conditional. conditional or to make its
effectivity contingent upon the
Contrary to Risos-Vidal’s fulfilment of the aforementioned
declaration, the third preambular commitment nor to limit the scope
clause of the pardon, i.e., of the pardon.
"[w]hereas, Joseph Ejercito Estrada
has publicly committed to no Besides, a preamble is really not an
longer seek any elective position or integral part of a law. It is merely
office," neither makes the pardon an introduction to show its intent or
conditional, nor militate against the purposes. It cannot be the origin of
conclusion that former President rights and obligations. Where the
Estrada’s rights to suffrage and to meaning of a statute is clear and
seek public elective office have unambiguous, the preamble can
been restored. neither expand nor restrict its
operation much less prevail over its
This is especially true as the text.
pardon itself does not explicitly
impose a condition or limitation, If former President Arroyo intended
considering the unqualified use of for the pardon to be conditional on
the term "civil and political Respondent’s promise never to
rights"as being restored. seek a public office again, the
Jurisprudence educates that a former ought to have explicitly
preamble is not an essential part of stated the same in the text of the
an act as it is an introductory or pardon itself. Since former
preparatory clause that explains President Arroyo did not make this
an integral part of the decree of
pardon, the Commission is
constrained to rule that the 3rd
preambular clause cannot be
interpreted as a condition to the
pardon extended to former
President Estrada.