Laguna Gov. Ejercito disqualifiedBy Kristine Angeli Sabillo, Nestor Corrales |INQUIRER.net
MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday unanimously voted to disqualify Laguna Governor Emilio Ramon “ER” Ejercito for “election overspending” during the 2013 midterm elections.
In a 23-page resolution, the Comelec en banc upheld its First Division’s September 2013 decision to unseat Ejercito.
The Commission ordered that his post be declared vacant and that it be assumed by Laguna Vice Governor Ramir Hernandez.
Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes, in a televised press conference, said the governor spent P6 million in television advertisements alone amid election rules limiting an official’s campaign budget based on the voter population of the locality.
“Considering that the province of Laguna has a population of One Million Five Hundred Twenty Five Thousand Five Hundred Twenty two (1,525,522), Ejercito’s authorized campaign spending limit is Four Million Five Hundred Seventy Six Thousand Five Hundred Sixty Six Pesos (PhP4,576,566.00),” the resolution said.
It added that the Comelec First Division discovered that Ejercito spent up to P23,563,365.28 for the whole campaign.
“These findings support the conclusion that Ejercito should be disqualified to continue as a candidate in the 13 May 2013 elections and from holding office, pursuant to Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC),” Comelec said.
Ejercito was also found to have given certain orange cards “to influence, induce, or corrupt the voters.”
Brillantes said that Ejercito has five days to file motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court (SC).
He said the order would be implemented if Ejercito’s camp fails to submit a motion.
But the governor said he was confident that the SC will side with him.
“I am prepared to take legal action against the disqualification order of the Comelec once we receive the documents,” he said in a text message to media.
“I am confident that the SC will uphold the rule of law and the voice of 550,000 voters of the Province of Laguna who voted for me. I am also confident that the SC will uphold the mandate of the people of Laguna that they have so overwhelmingly entrusted to me during the last 2010 and 2013 [gubernatorial] elections,” he added.