On House urging, Comelec cancels Negros Oriental special poll
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday cancelled the Dec. 9 special election in the third congressional district of Negros Oriental following the House of Representatives’ adoption of a resolution urging the poll body to reconsider its conduct.
The House sought the deferment of the special election, which was earlier set to fill the vacancy left by the expulsion of Arnolfo Teves Jr., due to “unresolved cases” stemming from the recently concluded barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.
Comelec Chair George Garcia on Wednesday announced that the en banc would immediately abide by House Resolution No. 154 as the poll body was bound by the decisions made by the lower chamber.
“The Congress has the power to call for a special election, and it also has the power to cancel a special election. The Comelec will just implement the mandate of the House of Representatives in this respect because it involves one of their members,” he said in a statement sent to reporters.
Garcia added: “This involves the question of membership. This should be resolved by the House of Representatives.”
House Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe said the results of the barangay and SK elections in the congressional district were “not yet done with,” prompting the House to urge the Comelec to reconsider the conduct of the special polls.
“We received reports from the ground that there are still areas in Negros Oriental, particularly in that…congressional district, that the results of the barangay and SK elections are not yet done with,” Dalipe told reporters in an interview on Wednesday.
“So if we still have unresolved election cases in Negros Oriental with regard to the barangay and youth polls, that would be in conflict with the special elections,” he added.
Speaker Martin Romualdez will remain the legislative caretaker of Negros Oriental’s third district.
“The conduct of special elections in the third legislative district of the province of Negros Oriental at this time and under the present circumstances may have a negative impact on the peace and order situation not only in the district, but also in the surrounding areas in the province,” the resolution said.
But even before the special elections’ cancellation was announced, at least three aspirants had already filed their certificates of candidacy with the provincial office of Comelec in Dumaguete City.
They were former Negros Oriental Gov. Pryde Henry Teves, the expelled lawmaker’s brother; Bacong Mayor Lenin Abiola; and retired Philippine Navy officer Rey Lopez, who ran and lost to Arnolfo Jr. in the 2022 elections.
Arnolfo Jr. was expelled in August over his continued absence from the House and his refusal to return to the country after being tagged as the alleged mastermind in the murder of his political rival, former Gov. Roel Degamo, in March.
Eleven suspects were arrested and linked Arnolfo Jr. to Degamo’s murder. But 10 of them later recanted their statements.
The former lawmaker has yet to return to the country and has repeatedly denied accusations that he was behind the attack on Degamo.