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No more filling in void to be left by Cayetano in Senate—poll lawyer

Cayetano

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano. Lyn Rillon/Inquirer File Photo

The Senate cannot call for a special election to fill in the vacancy of Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano as he takes over the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) as its new secretary.

This was the opinion of an election lawyer, saying the law provides that a special election to fill a vacancy in the Senate should be held simultaneously with the next regular polls in 2019.

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“With due respect to the Commission on Elections, the Senate cannot call for special election for Cayetano’s replacement. Such special election should be held simultaneous with the next succeeding regular election,” said poll lawyer Romulo Macalintal.

Macalintal cited Republic Act 7166 or the law providing for synchronized national and local elections, which states that the Comelec may hold a special election to fill a permanent vacancy in the Senate or House of Representatives at least one year before the expiration of the term.

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The law’s section 4 provides that: “However, in case of such vacancy in the Senate, the special election shall be held simultaneously with the succeeding regular election.”

Macalintal made the remark in reaction to the Comelec’s statement that it is the call of the Senate on whether to declare Cayetano’s seat vacant and call for a special polls.

READ: Pimentel may call for special polls for Cayetano replacement – Comelec

Earlier, President Duterte announced the appointment of Cayetano, his ally and running mate in the 2016 national elections, as the next DFA secretary.

READ: Duterte names Cayetano as new DFA chief

This means that Cayetano will have to give up his seat in the Senate, which he won in 2013. Cayetano is four years into his second term as senator, which was supposed to end in 2019.

Macalintal pointed out that the next regular elections will be during the mid-term polls in May 2019, which is when Cayetano’s term is due to end.

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“It would have been different if he was elected in 2016, where his term will end in 2022 and where his remaining term could be the subject of a special election in a regular polls in 2019,” he said.

With Cayetano’s departure from the Senate, this does not mean that the 13th placer in last year’s senatorial race can automatically assume the vacant seat in the Senate.

“The 13th placer cannot assume the vacant post because he did not win last May 2016. Only 12 won. There is no succession rule for the Senate and the House,” Macalintal said.

It may be recalled that ex-Metro Manila Development Authority chairperson Francis Tolentino placed 13th in the senatorial race in the 2016 polls.

He later filed an electoral protest to challenge the proclamation of 12th placer Sen. Leila de Lima, who is presently detained for illegal drugs charges.

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TAGS: Alan Peter Cayetano, Comelec, DFA, Romulo Macalintal, Senate, Special elections
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