Comelec won’t proclaim poll winners with pending DQ cases
Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) candidates with unresolved cases for either disqualification (DQ) or nullification of candidacy will not be proclaimed should they win in the Oct. 30 elections.
The seven-member Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc on Tuesday formally approved the proposal of Comelec Chair George Garcia to suspend the proclamation of candidates with pending cases.
“The Commission resolved to approve the suspension of proclamation of [candidates] with pending petitions to deny due course or to cancel certificate of candidacy; to declare as nuisance candidate; and for disqualification, until further orders from the Commission,” read a Comelec memorandum dated Oct. 24.
Garcia and Comelec Commissioners Socorro Inting and Marlon Casquejo as presiding commissioners of the First and Second Divisions, respectively, are authorized to issue the order of suspension of proclamation.
On Tuesday, Garcia told reporters that in case the winning barangay captain’s proclamation has to be suspended, the barangay councilor with the highest votes would act as barangay captain.
The term of office of barangay and SK candidates who will be elected on Oct. 30 will start at noon of Nov. 30.
197 DQ cases
As of Oct. 24, Comelec has filed disqualification cases against 197 candidates for premature campaigning.
Comelec is still evaluating complaints against around 6,000 other candidates for allegedly putting up campaign posters before the official start of the campaign period on Oct. 19.
Meanwhile, Comelec has ordered at least 716 candidates to explain why they should not be charged with illegal campaigning.
Garcia urged Comelec en banc to suspend the proclamation of candidates with pending cases “in order to not render nugatory the findings of the commission in the above cases [and] to give effect to the policy of the commission en banc in its campaign against election offenses.”
As this developed, the Supreme Court (SC) ruled that Comelec cannot remove or destroy privately owned campaign materials displayed on private property.
The judges, sitting in full court, held that Republic Act No. 9006, or the Fair Election Act, only permits the poll body to regulate the election propaganda owned by candidates and political parties.
“It does not allow the Comelec to regulate the political speech of private persons on private property,” the SC said.
The high court added that while Comelec may validly implement “Oplan Baklas”—the removal of illegally placed or unlawfully sized campaign materials—against candidates and political parties, it cannot implement the same policy against private individuals expressing their political preferences or support for a candidate or political party.
In its decision, the SC granted the petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus filed by St. Anthony College of Roxas City Inc. against Comelec and declared as unconstitutional the poll body’s confiscation and destruction of privately owned campaign materials displayed on private property. —With a report by Tina G. Santos INQ