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Lawyer: SC can dismiss election protest without Comelec answer

Mayen Jaymalin, Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - An election lawyer believes the Supreme Court (SC) can “dismiss on sight” a petition seeking to void the proclamation of 12 winning senators in last year’s election.

Lawyer Romulo Macalintal said the SC can dismiss the petition without requiring the Commission on Elections (Comelec) or the winning senators to answer.

The remedy that the petitioners are seeking is not within the SC’s power and jurisdiction, he added.

Macalintal said the petitioners’ proper recourse is to file an election protest before the Senate Electoral Tribunal, but that SET rules require election protest must be filed within a non-extendible period of 30 days after proclamation of the winning candidates.

“More than 11 months had already lapsed since the proclamation of the 12 senators, who had already taken their respective oath of office and are now performing their respective functions as duly elected members of the Senate, hence, the said petition is time-barred,” he said.

Based on the petition, the Comelec made a premature proclamation of the winning senators as  votes are still to be canvassed.

However, Macalintal said the procedural requirement to authenticate the electronically transmitted results cannot be a ground to void the election results because election rules and procedure are only “mandatory before” the election and they become “directory after” the election.

“To make it mandatory at this time when petitioners waited for 11 months to question the results will cause massive disenfranchisement if not total bewilderment  of the electorate who honestly voted for these winning senators,” he said.

Allegations of  “dagdag bawas” in the election were mere speculation of the petitioners, Macalintal said.

Recall petition vs Princesa mayor has merit

The Comelec has found merit in the recall petition against Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron, but it has no budget to hold an election.

Commissioner Lucenito Tagle said the petition of 44,409 voters to recall Bayron was sufficient in substance and form.

“The next thing to do now is the verification of signatures,” he said.

“But we cannot do it immediately because we don’t have budget for that. It will cost around P20 million to do the verification.”

Tagle said under the law, a recall election cannot be done within one year after an election, and that it is also prohibited within one year before the next scheduled polls.

“Right now, a recall election in Puerto Princesa is not in our budget,” he said. “We don’t have money for that. We’ll see what happens next.”

Residents who signed the recall petition represent some 31 percent of the  voting population. Under the law, only 15 percent must sign a recall petition.

In a statement, Bayron said the recall petition “is both mistaken and desperate.”

“We are not petitioning for a recall election that does not comply with the law,” he said.

“The recall process takes a good length of time and the Comelec would certainly find the sense to set the date of recall elections within the prescribed period.” 

Under Republic Act 9244, the Act Eliminating the Preparatory Recall Assembly as a Mode of Instituting Recall of Elective Local Government Officials, recall petition must be published for three consecutive weeks in a national newspaper of general circulation after the Comelec has certified its sufficiency of required number of signatures.

During this period, petitioners are required to post the same petition in conspicuous places to allow interested parties to examine petition and verify the signatures supporting it.

Another 15 days is allowed for Bayron to protest and challenge the petition.

 

ACT ELIMINATING THE PREPARATORY RECALL ASSEMBLY BAYRON COMELEC COMMISSIONER LUCENITO TAGLE ELECTION LAWYER ROMULO MACALINTAL MACALINTAL MODE OF INSTITUTING RECALL OF ELECTIVE LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS PETITION RECALL
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