Comelec: Puerto Princesa recall petition sufficient but…
MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has found the petition for the recall of Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron sufficient in form, but the election body must first find the money to finance the second recall election in the city’s history.
In a resolution released Tuesday, the Comelec en banc unanimously affirmed the finding of Deputy Executive Director Bartolome Sino Cruz Jr., who reviewed the petition against Bayron and certified to the sufficiency of the petition for Bayron’s recall.
The petitioners, who cited misgovernance, rising criminality and a decline in tourist arrivals, said they garnered 40,409 signatures of qualified voters in the city, which was 21,074 more signatures than the required 19,335 signatures needed for the recall poll to proceed.
The petitioners, led by supporters of former Mayor Edward Hagedorn, also accused Bayron of “breach of trust.”
The en banc resolution was signed by Chairman Sixto Brillantes and Commissioners Lucenito Tagle, Elias Yusoph, Christian Robert Lim, Maria Gracia Cielo Padaca, Al Parreño and Luie Tito Guia.
The same Comelec resolution, however, said that the recall proceedings will have to be suspended until the funding issue raised by the Comelec’s Finance Services Department is resolved.
“The Comelec has ordered the suspension of the process of the said recall petition due to funding issues,” the Comelec said. The verification of the signatures of the signatories is estimated to cost at least P20 million.
“It turned out that the petition is sufficient in form but we cannot proceed with the next steps because of funding issues,” explained Comelec spokesman James Jimenez in an interview.
Under the process of recall petitions, the first step is to determine the sufficiency of the petition, including the required number of signatures.
“The next step is to validate the authenticity of the signatures in the petitions, then this will be followed by the holding of the actual recall elections,” he said.
Jimenez said the poll body is the one required by the law to fund such process. Earlier, he was quoted as saying the funding issue was not a problem.
“We always have a ‘standby’ budget for recall, plebiscite, etc.,” Jimenez said, stressing that the successful holding of any recall election is among the “fundamental” mandates of the Comelec.
If it pushes through, the recall election will be the second for Puerto Princesa. In 2002, city voters decided to recall then Mayor Victor Dennis Socrates, who lost in the recall election to Edward Hagedorn.
Hagedorn had run for governor following three consecutive terms as mayor but he lost his bid to the now fugitive Joel Reyes. He ran and won in the recall election against Socrates. The longtime mayor is again expected to contest the mayorship against Bayron, his longtime vice mayor, following his ill-fated bid for the Senate in the last elections.
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