Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a measure seeking to allow for the voluntary resignation of an elected official who is being petitioned for recall election even while the removal process is still in progress.
De Lima, who chairs the Senate Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation Committee, has filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1676 amending Section 73 of Republic Act No. 7160, also known as the 1991 Local Government Code (LGC), which prohibits the voluntary resignation of an elected official while the recall process is going on.
“Given the fact that the government would have to shoulder the expenses of the recall elections and in light of the fiscal crisis that our country is experiencing, it would be more practical to allow the official… to voluntarily resign in order to avoid incurring additional expenses necessarily connected with the recall process,” she said.
De Lima pointed out that Section 69 of the LGC provides for recall, a mode of removal of local elective officials “for loss of confidence” that may be exercised by registered voters of a local government unit.
As such, she proposed that under her SB No. 1676, an official subject to recall proceedings may voluntarily resign and will be automatically succeeded, based on the rule of succession provided in Sections 44 and 45 of the LGC.
The former election lawyer said she hopes for the swift passage of the measure to prevent putting the funds of Commission on Elections (Comelec) to waste.
“If we can have the alternative – which is the voluntary resignation of an elected official, whose recall is sought – then the Comelec will not anymore have to carry the burden of financing a recall process,” she noted.
De Lima explained that while recall is “a fundamental right of the people in a representative democracy,” the power of recall still largely depends on the availability of funds of the Comelec, as Section 75 of the LGC provides that all expenses incident to recall elections shall be borne by the Comelec.
Last year, De Lima has also filed a measure seeking to amend the provision on the power of recall contained in the LGC.
De Lima, who is currently detained on trumped-up charges based on perjured testimonies of convicted criminals and fabricated evidence, was considered as one of the most prominent election lawyers in the country before she entered public service.