2 mayors face Comelec ax for alleged vote-buying
MANILA, Philippines—A day after affirming the disqualification and removal from office of Laguna Governor Emilio Ramon “ER” Ejercito for overspending in the 2013 elections, the Commission on Elections expects to rule soon on the disqualification cases of two mayors in Luzon who were accused of vote-buying.
Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes said the commission en banc will soon issue rulings on the cases of Mayors Benedict Calderon of Roxas, Isabela, and Alfredo Gesmar of Norzagaray, Bulacan, both of whom were disqualified earlier.
“They were both disqualified by the First Division. We can either affirm or reverse it,” he said, adding that the Comelec as a whole may issue the ruling by the end of the month or first week of June, at the latest.
“These two disqualification cases are the ones pending before the commission en banc. Other cases are still at the division level,” Brillantes added.
In the event that both rulings are affirmed, it would be the first time that elected officials are ousted due to vote-buying.
“This is something new. We have not removed anyone previously because of vote-buying,” he said.
In October last year, the Comelec First Division disqualified Gesmar over vote-buying charges made by losing mayoral bet, Feliciano Legaspi.
The same division also disqualified Calderon following vote-buying charges by his rival, Harry Soller.
The Omnibus Election Code defines vote-buying as “giving, offering or promising money or anything of value directly or indirectly, in order to induce anyone or the public in general to vote for or against any candidate.”
On Wednesday, the election body, in a unanimous vote, affirmed the disqualification and removal from office of Ejercito for overspending in the midterm elections.
Ejercito said he would take the issue to the Supreme Court.
He said he was confident the high court would “uphold the rule of law and the voice of the 550,000 voters of the province of Laguna who voted for me.”