Not all convicts disqualified to seek elective positions

MANILA – A convict jailed for not more than 18 months is allowed to seek public office.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Saturday said as long as the conviction is just for a year and six months, the candidate will not be disqualified.

“To be disqualified, there must be a conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude (not all crimes do), or a sentence to a penalty of more than 18 months,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez posted on his Twitter account @jabjimenez.

The Bouvier’s Law Dictionary defines moral turpitude as something “done contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals”.

The inherent nature of the act is such that it is against good morals and the accepted rule of right conduct, according to a 2009 Supreme Court decision on a petition seeking a candidate’s disqualification.

Under Section12 (Disqualification) of Batas Pambansa No. 881, otherwise known as the Omnibus Election Code, any person who has been declared by competent authority insane or incompetent, or has been sentenced by final judgment for subversion, insurrection, rebellion, or for any offense for which he has been sentenced to a penalty of more than eighteen months or for a crime involving moral turpitude, shall be disqualified to be a candidate and to hold any office, unless he has been given plenary pardon or granted amnesty.

The law added that the disqualification will be lifted upon the declaration by competent authority that said insanity or incompetence had been removed or after the expiration of a period of five years from his service of sentence unless within the same period he again becomes disqualified.

“[The] Supreme Court ang magdedeklara kung merong (will declare if there is) moral turpitude,” Jimenez tweeted, in reply to a query.