Comelec upholds disqualification of Aurora vice governor
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday reaffirmed its decision to disqualify Aurora Vice Governor Gerardo “Jerry” Noveras in the 2022 national and local elections, denying his motion for reconsideration.
The Comelec’s 1st Division disqualified Noveras after he was found to have committed a fraudulent scheme by causing a casual plantilla “to perform acts in furtherance of his candidacy,” which included the printing of campaign materials for Noveras using government properties and within government premises.
Noveras was also found to have coerced his subordinates to advance his campaign in the 2022 elections.
In a statement, the Comelec said that the en banc denied Noveras’ motion for reconsideration based on the case’s “merits rather than on technicality.”
While the en banc acknowledged that the petitioner who filed for Noveras’ disqualification failed to appear during the preliminary conference on the said case — which usually warrants a denial of such a petition — the en banc ruled that the petition gave “strong indication” that election laws have been violated.
“Here, the gravity of the crime charged and the strong indication that our election laws had been violated compel us to rule on Respondent’s disqualification despite the non-appearance of the Petitioner at the preliminary conference, which did not, in any way, affect the merits of the case,” the decision read.
The Comelec en banc explained that “strict adherence to procedural rules should not operate to shackle the Commission’s efforts to deter and punish the egregious disregard of prohibitions under our substantive electoral laws.”
“Thus, the material facts of the case and the supporting evidence clearly establish that Respondent’s use of a fraudulent scheme by unlawfully using government resources and premises has enabled him to … print materials for his campaign,” the decision read.
“This is a prohibited act of Section 261 (e) of the OEC. Thus, he can be disqualified pursuant to Section 68 of the OEC,” it added.