Comelec: All recall petitions’ proceedings still suspended
MANILA, Philippines—The suspension of the proceedings of all election recall petitions will likely remain despite an appeal to have it lifted.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) earlier issued Resolution No. 9882, which suspends all proceedings for recall petitions against elective officials due to lack of funds.
Last Wednesday, Perlita Mendoza, the main petitioner in the recall bid for elected Bulacan Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado, asked the commission en banc to reconsider its decision.
But Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes, in an interview with reporters, said Resolution No. 9882 stays since the commission en banc does not entertain motions for reconsideration (MRs).
“We do not accept MRs in the commission en banc. A decision is already final if it came from the en banc,” said Brillantes.
He said those questioning their suspension order should appeal their case to the Supreme Court.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez explained that the resolution issued by the poll body was not just a ruling on a particular case.
“[The resolution] was not based on one case or decision only. It’s like a policy statement,” Jimenez said in a separate interview.
The resolution was issued by the Comelec in accordance with the recommendation of the Office of the Deputy Executive Director in March.
The poll body is not allowed to let the petitioners shoulder the expenses in a recall election.
Under Section 15 of the Local Government Code of 1991 and Comelec Resolution No. 7505, all expenses incidental to recall elections shall be borne by the Comelec.
Sen. Koko Pimentel said earlier that the Comelec cannot suspend the conduct of recall elections and should instead use its P5-billion savings to fund these electoral exercises.
But Jimenez said their hands are tied from doing so. He said there are limitations to the chairman’s functions to augment deficiencies in the budget.
“It is limited to specific items, and recall elections are not included. So we don’t have the authority to move money around,” said Jimenez.
Another recall petition pending in the Comelec is the one against Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron.
The Comelec found the petition against Bayron to be sufficient in substance and form, but it could not proceed to the next step of verifying the signatures of voters who signed the petition because of the resolution.
Philippine Direct Democracy, the civil society group in Puerto Princesa that spearheaded the recall petition against Bayron, is questioning the decision of the Comelec stopping all recall petitions for lack of funds.
“Granting the absence of funds is correct, how did such an important facet of direct democracy enshrined in the Philippine Constitution get left out in the Comelec budgetary system?
“Article IX-C, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution mandates the Comelec, as a constitutional body, the duty to enforce and administer all laws relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum and recall, among others,” the group said.