DQ cases block Gwen’s bid for Cebu governor
CEBU CITY—Cebu Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia is facing yet another disqualification (DQ) case at the Commission on Elections (Comelec). This time, it was the turn of Barug Alang sa Kauswagan ug Demokrasya (Bakud), the Durano family-led party based in Cebu’s fifth congressional district, to petition the poll body to disallow Garcia from running for governor in next year’s elections.
Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, a Bakud member and a candidate for governor, said Garcia was not qualified to run since the latter had been barred by the Office of the Ombudsman from holding public office after she was found liable over an unauthorized project to backfill a largely underwater property when she was governor in 2012.
The Ombudsman’s decision was final and executory, Magpale said.
On Monday, lawyer Edgar Gica also filed a petition to disqualify Garcia, accusing her of making false claims in her certificate of candidacy (COC), also in connection with the Ombudsman’s order to bar her from holding public office.
Gica said Garcia made it appear in her COC that she was not held liable for any case that carries the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding public office that has become final and executory.
But Garcia said her opponents were doing everything to stop her from returning to the capitol. “These are desperate moves of desperate people already seeing a looming political defeat in the coming elections,” she said in a text message.
Garcia, who had appealed the Ombudsman ruling and thus insisted it was not yet final, said she was confident that the disqualification cases against her would not prosper. “They themselves (legal counsels of Gica and Bakud), as lawyers, know that, too,” she added.
Gica and Bakud filed their separate petitions against Garcia in the Comelec in Manila on Monday although it was only on Tuesday when Gica announced the filing.
Magpale told reporters of Bakud’s petition on Wednesday. “It is expected that a lot of petitions will be filed against her (Garcia) because of her previous cases. Anybody can file a petition against her as long as they are voters,” Magpale said.
Disqualification cases usually take time and it is likely that Garcia’s name will still be included in the printed ballots for next year’s polls, Cebu provincial election supervisor, Lionel Marco Castillano, said.
“After the filing of cases, Garcia will be asked to answer the accusations. Later on, there will be a preliminary conference. Afterward, the series of hearings will commence,” he said.
Lawyer Democrito Barcenas, a former Cebu vice governor, believed that the petitions to disqualify Garcia had legal bases. “She (Garcia) could even be charged with perjury for making it appear in her COC that she was not held liable in a case,” he said.
“Her ‘no’ answer to the question regarding her liability refers to a material fact and her false statement will even render her liable for perjury,” Barcenas added. —WITH A REPORT FROM JESSA MAE SOTTO
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