SC rules Laguna governor ousted
MANILA, Philippines–The Supreme Court upheld Tuesday the disqualification of Emilio Ramon “ER” Ejercito as governor of Laguna province, affirming the Commission on Elections (Comelec) resolution that deemed him unfit for public office due to overspending.
In a unanimous vote, the high court upheld the May 1, 2014, resolution by the Comelec en banc, which affirmed the Sept. 26, 2013, Comelec First Division resolution granting the disqualification petition filed by Ejercito’s political adversary, Edgar San Luis.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te said the high court en banc denied in a 12-0 vote the certiorari petition that Ejercito had filed just days after the Comelec resolution came out.
Ejercito asserted that the Comelec had committed grave abuse of discretion in ordering him out of the Laguna provincial capitol.
The high court has yet to release the full resolution and no further details were released on Tuesday. Te said Ejercito may still appeal the ruling.
The poll body disqualified Ejercito for spending more than five times the campaign spending ceiling for a local candidate during the 2013 campaign period: P23.56 million, or P18.99 million more than the allowed P4.57 million (or P3 for each of the 1,525,522 registered voters in Laguna).
In announcing the resolution in May, Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. said it was the “first time [for Comelec] to see a direct violation of the campaign finance rule on overspending.”
Ejercito, a movie star known by the screen name George Estregan Jr., stepped down on May 30 on the urging of his uncle, ousted President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, in an emotional speech before his constituents in Laguna’s capital town Sta. Cruz.
Both are from the opposition coalition United Nationalist Alliance.
Ejercito later repeatedly assured his constituents that he would be back, telling them to “wait for the return of the eagle.”
Laguna Vice Gov. Ramil Hernandez, a Nacionalista Party member, became governor when Ejercito stepped down.
In his petition, Ejercito accused the Comelec of abusing its discretion, claiming that San Luis’ petition against him sought criminal proceedings against him for violation of election laws, not his disqualification.
San Luis was known to have later amended his complaint to a disqualification case.
Ejercito completed his first term as governor after his election in 2010. He was reelected in 2013 but was forced to vacate his seat a year into his second term.
He first served as mayor of Pagsanjan town, serving three full terms before seeking higher office.
The Inquirer on Tuesday afternoon tried to get a reaction from Ejercito but his mobile phone was turned off.
“That could mean a ‘no comment,’”Carlos Dolendo, Ejercito’s chief of staff, said when the Inquirer asked him to verify this.
Dolendo, however, said the former Laguna governor was expected to issue an official statement in the next few days.–With a report from Maricar P. Cinco, Inquirer Southern Luzon
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.