Crystal clear: Mocha Uson’s OWWA appointment not allowed under Constitution, Agusan solon says
By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Agusan del Norte Rep. Lawrence Fortun said the 1987 Constitution is “crystal clear” on the matter of the one-year appointment ban on losing candidates.
Fortun’s latest statement came amid his opposition to the appointment of former Communications Assistant Sec. Mocha Uson as deputy executive director of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) on the grounds of being a former first nominee of defeated AA-Kasosyo party-list group.
Section 6, Article 9-B of the present Charter thereof explicitly provides: “No candidate who has lost in any election shall, within one year after such election, be appointed of their subsidiaries.”
Fortun, a senior member of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET), explained that a careful reading of the provision will show—the same does not admit of exceptions.
“It says ‘no candidate,’ who lost in ‘any election,’ can be appointed to ‘any office’ in the government or any GOCC or its subsidiaries,” said Fortun.
According to Fortun, the Constitution does not mention any exception, let alone losing party-list nominees.
“Since the Constitution prohibits any losing candidate from being appointed to a government office within one year after the election, that prohibition necessarily extends to the representative of a losing party-list candidate,” said Fortun.
He stressed that the argument that the prohibition does not apply to party-list nominees since they are technically not candidates “is an obvious departure from the unmistakable intent of the Constitution to prohibit any individual from being given any appointive government position within one year from failing to get an elective government position in an election.”
The Mindanao-based solon added that there is also no law, not even Republic Act No. 7941, otherwise known as the Party-List System Act, that so exempts party-list nominees from such prohibition.
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) spokesman James Jimenez last Monday said that Uson’s apppointent as deputy executive director of OWWA is valid because the one-year ban applies only to the party-list and not the nominee.
But Fortun explained that Jimenez’s pronouncement “is utterly inconsistent with the unequivocal prohibition” under the 1987 charter.
“This is the cause of the confusion, and has made the categorical constitutional prohibition susceptible to violation and abuse,” said Fortun.