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Davide: Despi should not have been disqualified

Kristine B. Quintas (The Freeman) - May 10, 2017 - 4:00pm

CEBU, Philippines - While he is not necessarily allied with political rivals Arthur Despi and Ian Christopher Escario in Bantayan, Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III sides with Despi on his disqualification from the mayorship in the town.

Davide, chairman of the Liberal Party in Cebu, agrees with Despi’s argument that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should have given more weight on “voice of the electorate’ when it ruled on Escario’s petition to have Despi disqualified.

“Clearly he (Despi) was the choice of the Bantayanons,” Davide said yesterday.

Escario lost to Despi in a hotly contested May 2016 elections by a huge margin of 4451 votes. Despi got a total of 16,494 votes against only 12,043 for Escario.

 But the Comelec En Banc revoked Despi’s certificate of candidacy (CoC), which, in effect, disqualified him from running for mayor in the first place, because Despi allegedly falsified his certificate of nomination.

But Davide argued that instead of disqualifying Despi in the absence of a nomination, the Comelec should have just considered him an independent candidate.

"My personal position, the Comelec should not have disqualified Mayor Despi. They could have simply considered him as independent candidate. In fact, he filed his CoC in substitution for the person nominated by PROMDI,” the governor said.

“Okay ra i-declare invalid substitution but dawaton ang COC as independent," he added.

Despi was supposedly the substitute candidate of Abag-PROMDI party.

Not affected

Escario who took his oath as the new mayor last Monday, said Davide’s opinions do not affect him.

Escario ran under the National Unity Party (NUP) in the May polls.

“Okay raman na. Wa man ta’y mahimo kay opinion man na niya. Amigo man gud sila so modapig gyud siya. Di ko makig-away kay samok na,” he told The FREEMAN.

 “Ang ako lang, i-respeto ang desisyon sa Comelec ug Supreme Court aron wa na’y gubot,” he said.

The decision of the Comelec to revoke Despi’s CoC for “material misrepresentation” was upheld by the Supreme Court.

Arguments

Despi said earlier the cancellation of his CoC is tantamount to disenfranchisement of the 57.09 percent of the voters in Bantayan.

He argued that the Comelec disqualified him based on Section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) on invalid substitution and not under Section 78 in relation to Section 74 of the OEC on material misrepresentation.

 “Had I been disqualified under Section 78, I would just have stepped down and passed the leadership to Chris Escario because my Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) would be void from the beginning,” he said.

 The Supreme Court has yet to resolve Despi’s petition supposedly for it to issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against Escario’s proclamation.

 Like Davide, Vice Mayor Antonio Montemar believes Escario should not have been proclaimed mayor because he was not elected by the people.

Instead, by virtue of succession, it should have been Montemayor who should assume the mayorship, granting the court will not reverse the Comelec’s ruling.

 On the same day Escario was proclaimed at the Comelec central office in Manila, Montemar filed a petition for quo warranto before the Regional Trial Court in Bogo City in Cebu.

A quo warranto is a special form of legal action used to resolve a dispute over whether a specific person has the legal right told the public office that he or she occupies. (FREEMAN)

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