[JURIST] The Supreme Court of the Philippines [official website] ruled Tuesday that current President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo [official website; BBC profile] is eligible to run for the senate after her presidential term expires. The Supreme Court denied a petition [Manila Times report] brought by Rep. Risa Hontiveros [official website] of the Akbayan [party website] party-list, which sought to disqualify Arroyo from running for the senate, challenging the decision of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) [official website]. The petition alleged that Arroyo's office gives her an unfair advantage and criticized [press release] her for earmarking projects in the district in which she is running. Tuesday's decision comes after the court ruled [judgment text] Monday that a law requiring appointed officials to resign when they declare their candidacy for elected office is constitutional, but that the ruling does not affect elected officials because, "by the very nature of their office, [they] engage in partisan political activities almost all year round, even outside of the campaign period. The court overruled a December decision [judgment text] that held that the law violated the equal protection clause of the Philippine Constitution because it had separate rules for elected and appointed officials. A court spokesperson said [Manila Bulletin report] Tuesday that Monday's decision will not effect Arroyo's candidacy because she is an elected official.
Earlier this month, the Philippine Department of Justice (PDOJ) [official website] charged 197 people with murder [JURIST report] in connection with the November massacre in the semi-autonomous Maguindanao province that left 57 dead. Among those charged is Andal Ampatuan Sr., a former political ally to Arroyo, head of a Muslim clan, and former governor of Maguindanao province. Following the killings, Arroyo imposed martial law [JURIST report] and suspended habeas corpus in the province. She later lifted the conditions, following international pressure and domestic legal challenges [JURIST reports].