We hope the spectacle of a jailed mayor being able to appoint council members from behind bars offers senators enough proof to rewrite the law and fix a broken system.
The public has expressed outrage over this and lawmakers should act on the reactions from the public.
Yona Mayor Jesse Mendiola Blas has been in jail for more than 100 days after he was arrested in September 2019. He awaits trial in a federal case that accuses him of receiving bribes in exchange for an alleged drug ring's use of mailboxes under his office's control.
While Blas is considered innocent until proven guilty, there should be a mechanism in place to plug the leadership void – and at least put his duties on hold – while he hasn't been cleared of the charges.
The way his situation unfolded, it seemed like no one had the power or the will to at least suspend him from appointing his village's municipal council planning members to take over his responsibilities until he's cleared of his legal duties.
The information that stems from the criminal case against the mayor alleges he used his authority to threaten a potential witness – this should have been a red flag that he shouldn't be in a position to appoint people to run the village while the charges against him remain. And while he's behind bars. The court declined to grant him pretrial release for a reason. The public isn't safer by freeing him and yet he's allowed to appoint council members to run his village.
The honorable thing for Blas to do is to resign as urged by other mayors and by senators.
But in an act of defiance, he not only has declined to heed the advice, he then proceeds to appoint municipal council members to run the village on his behalf.
The Legislature has the power to let this be a lesson, but it requires them to take action now.
They can pass the proposed law putting a recall election in place so that the power is given back to the electorates of a village to decide whether to keep their mayor or let him go.
If there's no mechanism to suspend an elected mayor who is arrested and faces charges, then now is also the time to write this in law.