THE Supreme Court (SC) has unseated Rep. Philip Pichay of the 1st District of Surigao del Sur, and declared Mary Elizabeth Ty-Delgado as the duly-elected winner in the 2013 elections.
In a decision dated Jan. 26, 2016 and released yesterday, the SC en banc ruled that Pichay is disqualified due to libel convictions.
The SC said that Pichay’s sentence for libel ends on Feb. 16, 2016, making him ineligible to run for public office until after this period.
Voting 11-0, the SC magistrates decided that the duly elected congressman of Surigao del Sur’s 1st District in the May 2013 elections is the petitioner Mary Elizabeth Ty-Delgado.
Likewise, the SC clarified that the said decision is “immediately executory.”
The petitioner had asked for the disqualification of Pichay based on Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code after he was convicted of libel, a crime which is considered as “moral turpitude.”
According to Delgado, when Pichay paid the fine on Feb. 17, 2011, the five-year prohibition for him to run for office again has not yet lapsed.
The SC disagreed with the decision of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET), which said that Pichay had no control in the release of the libelous publication, hence, his conviction in the libel case cannot be considered as moral turpitude.
The SC stressed that the moral turpitude is any action that is contrary to the “spirit of justice and good morals.”