Recall vs Puerto vice mayor filed by rival’s supporters
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—Supporters of Mayor Lucilo Bayron on Wednesday filed a recall petition against Vice Mayor Luis Marcaida III amid a continuing legal battle between the former allies over the city’s mayoral post.
The petitioners submitted to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) signature sheets of voters contained in seven balikbayan boxes. They said these were sufficient to meet the required minimum number of petitioner signatures to hold a special election for the position of vice mayor of Puerto Princesa City.
The petitioners, led by Oscar Lapida Jr., cited “loss of confidence” as basis for calling for recall elections. They also linked Marcaida to the illegal drug trade.
Bayron, accompanied by other city officials, joined around 200 of his supporters outside the Comelec office here during the filing of the petition.
Lapida said his group, for a week, gathered 39,768 signatures to support the petition. He said the figure already exceeded the minimum 15 percent of the total registered number of voters required by the election code.
“In his current term as Puerto Princesa vice mayor, [Marcaida] has not shown any sign of competence, transparency and integrity,” Lapida told the reporters.
Under the country’s election law, citizens can recall an elected official in a special election to fill up the vacated post. The Comelec is mandated to hold the special election within one year before or after any regular elections.
Election officials in Puerto Princesa said they would study whether the petition would meet the required “form and substance” before endorsing it to the Comelec en banc, which would decide whether to hold a recall election.
Marcaida said he would wait for the Comelec’s decision.
But he challenged the veracity of the petitioners’ signatures, claiming many registered voters were “tricked” into signing the petition.
“I received complaints from the elderly, from persons with disabilities and from city government scholars that they were being made to sign the petition in exchange for benefits that they get from the city government,” Marcaida said.
He dismissed the filing of the petition as “pure political harassment” and described it as a “failed attempt [at] a show of force.”
The petition came on the heels of a continuing legal tussle between Bayron and Marcaida over the mayoral post of Puerto Princesa City.
Bayron, who had been dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman over a “serious dishonesty” case, had won an acquittal on the same case from the Court of Appeals (CA).
Marcaida, claiming that the CA decision was not final and executory, took his oath of office as mayor before a local judge early last month. He insisted that Bayron should serve his dismissal pending a final ruling on his case by the Supreme Court.
According to Marcaida, he cannot be recalled as vice mayor because he no longer holds the post due to his assumption as mayor.
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