FALSE: ‘No law’ prevents gov’t officials from participating in businesses

Claim: In a Manila Times opinion piece published on November 21, columnist Rigoberto Tiglao claimed there is no law that prohibits any government official from setting up businesses.

His piece was republished on the sites kahimyang.com and kamiangmedianidu30.group on November 20 and 21, respectively.

“It must be emphasized that contrary to what many Filipinos think, there is no law that makes it criminal for any Filipino citizen, not even a government official, to have overseas bank accounts or to set up foundations or businesses in Switzerland, Timbuktu or anywhere in the world,” Tiglao wrote.

The piece argued that Imelda Marcos should not have been convicted by the Sandiganbayan, because they convicted her on the basis of a “law that doesn't exist.”

Rating: FALSE

Facts: Both the 1973 Constitution (the basis of Marcos' graft conviction) and the current 1987 Constitution prohibit government officials from having businesses while in office.

Marcos was found guilty of violating Section 3(h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019), in relation to Article IX, Section 8 of the 1973 Constitution. Article IX, Section 8 of the 1973 Constitution reads:

"The Prime Minister, the Members of the Cabinet and the Members of the Executive Committee, shall be subject to the provisions of Section 11, Article VIII hereof and may not appear as counsel before any court or administrative body, or manage any business, or practice any profession, and shall also be subject to such other disqualifications as may be provided by law."

Marcos was convicted based on the 1973 Constitution because she committed crimes during the time when the 1973 Constitution was in effect.

In the 1987 Constitution, Article VII, Section 13, this provision was further strengthened. It now reads:

The President, Vice-President, the Members of the Cabinet, and their deputies or assistants shall not, unless otherwise provided in this Constitution, hold any other office or employment during their tenure. They shall not, during said tenure, directly or indirectly, practice any other profession, participate in any business, or be financially interested in any contract with, or in any franchise, or special privilege granted by the Government or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations or their subsidiaries. They shall strictly avoid conflict of interest in the conduct of their office...

This provision of the 1987 Constitution also includes a clause against nepotism. It reads:

The spouse and relatives by consanguinity or affinity within the fourth civil degree of the President shall not during his tenure be appointed as members of the Constitutional Commissions, or the Office of the Ombudsman, or as Secretaries, Undersecretaries, chairmen or heads of bureaus or offices, including government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries.

– Vernise L. Tantuco/Rappler.com