Cebu News

Victory for team Rama? Comelec cancels Pe’s candidacy

Jessa Agua - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The First Division of the Commission on Elections has cancelled the candidacy of Cebu City north district Councilor Augustus "Jun" Pe for his failure to establish a residence in the south district.

In a 14-page decision, the Comelec favored petitioners and Team Rama candidates for councilor Ronald Diola and Tisha Aisha "Inday Tikay" Gonzalez and barred Pe from running for committing "a material misrepresentation in his certificate of candidacy."

But Pe, who is running for the council in the south district under the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), said he would file an appeal.

The ruling stated that Pe failed to satisfy one of the main requirements, which is to establish a residence in the south district.

"…we hold that under the circumstances, he (Pe) failed to present a clear and positive proof that he had, in fact, abandoned his former residence and established a new one," the ruling read.

According to Pe, who is barred by the law from seeking reelection in the north district, he is now a resident of the south district.   

The Comelec, however did not consider the other issue on the violation of the three-term limit, which was part of the petition filed by Diola and Gonzalez.

"Respondent Pe is not barred from running for the position of member of Sangguniang Panlungsod representing the 2nd District. Conditions for the application of the three-term limit rule are not present in the instant case as respondent is clearly not running for the same government position," the decision read.

"Justice is served"

Mayor Michael Rama welcomed the decision of the Comelec, saying "justice is served."

"It's not only for my team. It's for the whole country," Rama told reporters.

The decision to disqualify Pe will serve as a lesson to all, said Rama, who did not receive a copy of the Comelec decision.

Despite getting the favorable decision, Team Rama Councilor Joey Daluz said they will file an appeal on the issue of the violation of the three-term limit.

"We will insist on this issue because at the council, our votes are not counted as whether from the north or the south. We are all considered one council," Daluz told The FREEMAN.

He said they are confident that the law would prove that Pe should not be allowed to run in the south district.

Not yet over

Pe, in a press conference, said they would file an appeal at the Comelec en banc to convince the poll body about his new residence in the south district.

The councilor is currently residing at Calderon Compound, Sitio Banawa in Barangay Guadalupe.

"I called a press conference here to show that I have a house at the South District and I have been living here for more than two years," Pe told reporters.

For his part, south district Representative Tomas Osmeña, the BOPK head, said they would file a motion for reconsideration over the Comele decision.

"Kung sa basketball pa ni, first quarter pa ni. Taas pa kaayo. It is far from over," Osmeña told The FREEMAN in a text message.

He said he did not receive a copy of the decision.

South district election officer Atty. Edwin Cadungog, in a radio interview, said their office has yet to receive a copy of the decision.

Even if the Comelec en banc and the Supreme Court decide to make Pe's disqualification final and executory, his name can still be seen on the ballots in the May 13 elections, regional election officer Atty. Temie Lambino said.

"We already commenced the printing of ballot at the National Printing Office. If ever he will be disqualified, then any votes that would cast for him would be considered stray vote," Lambino explained.

Printing of ballots for the Visayas has already begun following those for Mindanao, he added. — LPM (FREEMAN)

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