Mayor who disrupted Puerto Princesa recall to be probed
MANILA, Philippines–The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will look into possible sanctions against Puerto Princesa Mayor Lucilo Bayron who disrupted the verification proceedings being conducted by the Comelec on the signatures on a recall petition filed against the mayor.
A video on YouTube that has gone viral shows an angry Bayron barging into the city coliseum on Feb. 28, where the Comelec was holding validation operations and confronting a poll official from whom he grabbed a document that he tore up, disrupting the proceedings.
“What we will do about it will be something the en banc has to decide,” said Comelec spokesman James Jimenez in an interview with reporters.
“The important question is why did he feel empowered to do that? Why did he feel he could take an official document and tear it up? That’s more crucial than anything,” Jimenez said.
The verification of signatures is crucial to validate the recall petition filed against Bayron by Alroben Goh, a former Puerto Princesa City information officer and ally of ex-Mayor Edward Hagedorn. Goh has claimed local residents have lost confidence in the mayor.
While Bayron may not be barred from the recall proceedings, Jimenez said the Comelec was more concerned about the mayor’s snatching of an official Comelec document and ripping it up.
Jimenez said that what Bayron did would not stop the recall process, however.
“[His act] did not seem to have accomplished anything. It certainly does not stop whatever that order was saying should be done,” Jimenez said. “The document was just a representation of what happened. Why tear it up? We can just produce another one as long as we can prove that we don’t change anything in the content.”
Jimenez said the report on the validation process had been submitted to the Comelec’s Office of the Deputy Executive Director for Operations.
Under recall guidelines, the verification of signatures is followed by an announcement by the Comelec of the acceptance of candidates for the position—with Bayron automatically a candidate—and the date of the recall election.
Bayron claimed it was the Comelec that arbitrarily suspended the verification proceedings.
He described the halt to the validation as “an obvious attempt to railroad the implementation of a sham recall election that was already exposed to contain thousands of fraudulent signatures, including signatures of dead people.”
He said that of the 35,731 signatures on the petition, only 32,322 had been examined and verified.
He said 3,409 signatures had yet to be verified, “but the election officer abruptly ended the verification process without offering any justification. Clearly the election officer has unfinished business.”
But Jimenez said Bayron’s claim was unfounded as the election officer could end the verification process once the required number of signatures had been met.
“You get as many signatures as you can and once you get enough signatures, tapos ang usapan (that’s the end of that). The threshold is only 15 percent, not necessarily 100 percent. I think there were already more than enough [signatures],” Jimenez said.–With a report from Redempto Anda, Inquirer Southern Luzon
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