Poll watchdog urges lawmakers to include party-list nominees in appointment ban

MANILA, Philippines – Following pro-Duterte blogger Mocha Uson's newest appointment after her loss in the May 2019 party-list elections, poll watchdog Kontra Daya urged lawmakers to expand the one-year ban on appointive posts to include party-list nominees.

"It is high time for the Senate and the House of Representatives to expand the one-year ban on government appointments to losing party-list nominees, particularly the first, second, and third nominees," Kontra Daya said in a statement Monday, September 30.

Uson's newest post as deputy executive director of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration was quickly criticized by the public, with many questioning on social media her competence and qualifications. 

Many had also questioned why the controversial blogger – who had resigned as Palace communications assistant secretary – was appointed to another post less than a year after she was nominated by AA-Kasosyo in the May 2019 polls, where the party failed to get enough votes to gain a seat in Congress.

This is because the one-year ban on election losers being appointed to government posts does not cover party list nominees.

What are the rules? Under Rule 4, Section 3, of Commission on Elections (Comelec) Resolution No. 9366, which governs the party-list system, "the one year prohibition from being hired or rehired in a public office after their party-list organizations fail to secure the needed votes to qualify them for a seat in the House of Representatives, shall not apply to them."

This was affirmed in Comelec minute resolution 19-0677, where the Comelec en banc resolved that the one-year prohibition was not applicable to nominees of a losing party-list organization "as the nominees are not the candidates but ratherer the party-list itself."

However, a change to this exemption has been sought by those who believe it gives an unfair advantage to party-list nominees. The 1987 Constitution clearly states: "No candidate who has lost in any election shall, within one year after such election, be appointed to any office in the Government or any Government-owned or controlled corporations or in any of their subsidiaries."

"While it may be argued that the party-list system provides for election of party-list groups (not individuals), it is better for those in power to exercise prudence in giving out appointments to its favored individuals clearly rejected by the voters." Kontra Daya said.

"The clique holding office in Malacañang Palace cannot use legal technicalities to hide the ugly head of patronage politics," it added.

Uson's appointment as deputy executive director is her 3rd government position under the Duterte administration. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.