San Juan recall petition doomed? Zamora urges Comelec to set poll

Rambo Talabong
San Juan recall petition doomed? Zamora urges Comelec to set poll
The Comelec can only set a recall election against Mayor Guia Gomez by May 11, 2018

MANILA, Philippines – While the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has so far ruled in his favor in the recall petition filed against San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez, losing San Juan 2016 mayoral bet Francis Zamora knows he’s running out of time.

This is why on Thursday, February 15, he called on the poll body to immediately act on the petitition backed by 30,000 signatories, or double what is required for San Juan given its voting population. 

“On behalf of all the 30,000 signatories, I humbly and sincerely appeal to the Comelec to take action on the motion for reconsideration (MR) so the recall process can move forward,” Zamora said in a statement.

He was referring to the MR filed by Gomez’s camp to trash their recall petition. 

Section 74 of the Local Government Code mandates that recall elections cannot happen a year before a regular election. 

This means the San Juan recall poll can only be held by May 11, 2018, or in about 11 weeks.

In 2016, Zamora lost to Gomez by just a little over 1,000 votes. (FAST FACTS: The recall process)

Gomez was in a relationship with former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, the mother of his son Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito. Destroying the Estrada family’s hold of San Juan is one of Zamora’s key campaign vows in 2016. Zamora himself is a former ally of the Estrada family, the Zamoras having helped fund the old man Estrada’s mayoral campaigns. 

Should Gomez’s MR be denied, the Comelec would need to verify at least 15,000 of the signatures that backed the petition.

After the recount of signatures, Gomez can file another petition questioning the counting, Zamora said. The Comelec would only be able to set a date for the recall election once they junk Gomez’s second appeal.

“There are still many steps before the actual recall elections, and time is fast running out,” Zamora said.

“30,000 San Juaneños risked their lives by signing the petition. It would only be fair to all of them for their signatures to be verified so we can finally see if, indeed, they will go beyond the required number of 15,000 signatures,” Zamora added.

In a statement sent to reporters Wednesday, February 14, the Comelec said it would prefer to take caution before reaching coming up with a verdict. 

“It hasn’t been a month yet and the Comelec will not rush to a decision. The matter is being considered by the Comelec and a ruling will be issued in due time,” the poll body said.

This entails more waiting for Zamora and his supporters.

Gomez has repeatedly called on Zamora to let her finish her third and last term as the mayor of the small-area, high-income, central city.

Zamora, however, said the completion of her last term would only serve as a transition period for Gomez to groom her senator son JV Ejercito to return as San Juan mayor come 2019. – Rappler.com

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.