Comelec annuls election of Quezon lawmaker
LUCENA CITY, Quezon, Philippines – The Commission on Elections’ Second Division annulled the proclamation of Quezon’s fourth district congresswoman-elect Angelina Tan last Friday and ordered for a recount of votes.
The Comelec-Second Division ruling, promulgated on June 28, was signed by presiding Commissioner Elias Jusoph and commissioners Grace Padaca and Luie Tito Guia.
A scanned copy of the ruling was furnished Sunday to the Philippine Daily Inquirer by losing candidate Wigberto Tañada Jr., who could end up the winner in a vote recount.
“The proclamation of Angelina D. Tan as member of the House of Representatives for the Fourth District of the Province of Quezon is hereby annulled,” the ruling said.
The poll body’s second division ordered the Quezon provincial board of canvassers “to reconvene for the purpose of effecting the necessary correction in the certificate of canvassing and proclamation by crediting the 7,038 votes of Alvin John S. Tañada, Jr. to Wigberto R. Tañada, Jr.; to then recompute the votes cast for Wigberto; and thereafter proclaim the rightful winner.”
Wigberto Jr. trailed behind Tan by 4,084 votes. If the votes of Alvin John were transferred to Wigberto Jr., the latter would win the election with a margin of 2,954 votes over Tan.
On Sunday, Wigberto Jr. quoted the pertinent portion of the Comelec decision and sent it to several media reporters, including the Inquirer, via e-mail.
“With this Comelec decision, I don’t know how she can legally assume office,” Wigberto Jr. said in a phone interview Sunday.
Tan’s lawyer, Prumencio Pulgar, however, downplayed the Comelec decision.
“Definitely we will question Comelec here. The Comelec no longer has jurisdiction over the case but the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) has,” Pulgar said in a phone interview.
Wigberto cited the recent Supreme Court decision that touched on the issue of HRET’s jurisdiction when it disqualified Marinduque Congresswoman-elect Regina Ongsiako Reyes for being an American citizen.
Wigberto Jr. said that in the Reyes decision, the Supreme Court held that the HRET, the body tasked to resolve electoral cases involving members of the House, could not exercise jurisdiction on a lawmaker who has not officially started his or her term yet.
Wigberto Jr. emphasized that the Comelec issued its decision nullifying Tan’s proclamation on June 28.
Under the law, the jurisdiction of the HRET commences at noon of June 30, the start of the term of office of the members of the House of Representatives, according to Wigberto Jr.
Pulgar, however, stressed that Tan has officially assumed office as duly elected Quezon representative starting Sunday, June 30.
He also wondered how Wigberto Jr. got a copy of the decision on a Saturday when the Comelec office was closed.
Pulgar insisted Tan’s official stature as an elected lawmaker of the country had already been met by her proclamation as winner in the last election by the provincial board of canvassers, her taking of her official oath as a lawmaker and official assumption of office.
“But the issue here is the validity of her (Tan) proclamation by the board of canvassers. Did she have a valid proclamation?” Wigberto Jr. said.
He insisted that the Comelec office was open last Saturday.
Tan was one of the elected lawmakers from Nationalist Peoples Coalition who took their oath of office before President Aquino last week.
After Tan was proclaimed winner last May, Wigberto Jr. immediately filed his petition before the Comelec on grounds that the third candidate Alvin John Tañada was no longer a valid contender for the position during the election.
He argued that since the poll body had already cancelled the Certificate of Candidacy (COC) of Alvin John Tañada (PMP), the latter was no longer a candidate.
Wigberto Jr. maintained that since Alvin John was not a candidate, the provincial board of canvassers had erred in counting his (Alvin John) votes.
He insisted that Alvin John’s votes should have been counted in his favor as the only Tañada candidate for that position.
In the final canvass of votes, Tan got 84,782 votes, Wigberto Jr. 80,698, and Alvin John, 7,038.
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