Should Edgardo Tallado, governor of Camarines Norte, be given a free pass because cheating on your wife is not as grave as plundering public funds? That seems to be his main argument when he faced his constituents for a public mea culpa last October 27.
As reported on the Manila Bulletin, the scandal-plagued governor used the flag ceremony at the provincial capitol that morning to address his much-publicized marital problems. He apologized to his wife and children for his sexual dalliances.
Tallado however insisted that he will not resign because he has “mandate from the people.” He added that he already sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation in tracking the individuals that leaked sensitive photos of him with an identified woman over the Internet.
As a public official (and an elected one at that), Tallado is bound by Republic Act 6713, known as the “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.” Section 4.c. of the said law states the following:
(c) Justness and sincerity. – Public officials and employees shall remain true to the people at all times. They must act with justness and sincerity and shall not discriminate against anyone, especially the poor and the underprivileged. They shall at all times respect the rights of others, and shall refrain from doing acts contrary to law, good morals, good customs, public policy, public order, public safety and public interest (emphasis added – TFS)
“Any violation of the Code shall be punished with a fine not exceeding the equivalent of six months (6) salary or suspension not exceeding one (1) year, or removal depending on the gravity of the offense,” the law further notes.
While “good morals” is a very debatable term, Tallado clearly violated existing laws when he cheated on his wife with another woman (didn’t he admit it already?). Article 334 of the Revised Penal Code says:
Art. 334. Concubinage. — Any husband who shall keep a mistress in the conjugal dwelling, or shall have sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances, with a woman who is not his wife, or shall cohabit with her in any other place, shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods. (note: prision correccional means imprisonment of up to six years)
Are we making a mountain out of a molehill here? I won’t be surprised to hear some say “yes.” As noted in a blog post three years ago, Filipinos are notoriously very permissive as regards their womanizing politicians. You know, some men still have this outdated belief that having many mistresses is a badge of honor rather than a cause for shame.
I can think of two cases that are similar to Tallado’s predicament. The first one involves former PBA commissioner Emmanuel “Noli” Eala. Eala was disbarred by the Supreme Court (SC) in 2007 after it was proven that he carried out an affair with a married woman while he himself is also married.
In their decision, the SC ruled unanimously affirmed that Eala should be removed from his profession for his “conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law.” Read the full decision here.
The second one involves Eliot Spitzer, former governor of New York. He was forced to resign in 2008 after it was revealed that he cheated on his wife by being a client in a prostitution service. His fall from power happened just 16 months after he was elected with a wide margin.