Party-list wants showbiz stars barred from elections

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — A PARTY-LIST group is urging the Supreme Court to stop showbiz personalities turned politicians from appearing in movies and television shows and to ban them from running for elective posts.

Abakada-Guro, composed of law professors and social justice advocates, said showbiz personalities serving as elected officials were still appearing in movies and TV programs and failing to serve their constituents.

As a result, national president Samson Alcantara has appealed to the high court to rule on a four-year-old case on the status of movie and television actors in politics.

The suit stemmed from an inquiry on whether or not municipal and city mayors and provincial governors who are movie or TV personalities violate the law when they continue to make films and appear on television.

“Being a mayor or a governor is a 24-hour job,” Alcantara told reporters yesterday.

“A local chief executive cannot immediately and personally attend to the needs of his or her constituents if he or she is shooting a movie, TV show or commercial somewhere else.”

Alcantara said he repeated his appeal to the Supreme Court because several movie, radio and TV personalities had announced their intention to run in the May 2007 polls.

“A public official should not be allowed to violate or disregard the law simply because he or she is a popular movie or television personality,” he said.

He said elected officials appearing in movies or television shows boost their income but reduce the time they should be devoting to their constituents. They take advantage of their popularity to win elections but fail to do their jobs well.

“The notion that elections in the country are a popularity contest is thus strengthened,” he said.

Abakada-Guro’s affiliate, the former Social Justice Society party-list, filed the original suit with the Manila City Regional Trial Court in September 2002.

The group named former Interior Secretary Joey Lina, then Parañaque City Mayor Joey Marquez, then Pampanga Gov. Lito Lapid, and Lipa City Mayor Vilma Santos as respondents in the suit.

But Manila Judge Cesar Solis dismissed the suit on technicality in June 2003 and ruled that the Social Justice Society was not the principal complainant.

Lapid, now a senator, is not bothered by the new suit saying he had vowed to donate his earnings from films and TV shows. He had earlier announced his plan to run as mayor in Makati City.

Marquez claims the case is a form of curtailment of his freedom of speech and expression, and Santos questions its propriety.