Comelec body ousts Pampanga mayor on Duterte drug list for ‘overstaying’
MANILA — The Commission on Elections’ First Division ousted from public office a Pampanga mayor who was also on President Duterte’s list of alleged drug trafficking protectors and coddlers.
The Comelec’s First Division cancelled the certificate of candidacy of Mabalacat Mayor Marino Morales of Pampanga for reelection in the May elections, after determining that he had already served three consecutive terms prior to the May elections. A local official is limited to three consecutive terms of 3 years per each term, after which he or she must take a three-year break before running again for the same position.
The case against Morales stemmed from a disqualification complaint filed by his rival, mayoral candidate Pyra Lucas.
Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, one of the members of the First Division, said the division ruling was promulgated last August 3. The other members of the First Division are commissioners Christian Robert Lim and Louie Tito Guia.
However, the embattled Morales filed a motion for reconsideration last August 8 questioning the resolution.
The Mabalacat mayor was among the more than 150 personalities named by Duterte as being allegedly involved in protecting the illegal drug trade.
He denied the allegations and said he was willing to be investigated to clear his name.
Guia said the cancellation of Morales’ COC for reelection in the May polls was not related to the so-called “narco-list” of President Duterte.
Morales’ COC was cancelled because of a violation of Section 78 under the Omnibus Election Code, which states that a petition to cancel a COC may be filed on grounds of material misrepresentation.
Morales is ousted from his office after he allegedly claimed in his COC that he was eligible to run for mayor despite having served three consecutive terms as mayor.
Early this year, the Comelec Second Division dismissed a disqualification case against Morales for procedural defects, while another disqualification case is pending against him in the same division.
The Comelec law department may also study the First Division’s ruling to determine if the election offense may be considered for the filing of a criminal case. SFM
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