SC orders Comelec: Respond to ER Ejercito's plea
MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, May 27, ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to respond to the petition of Emilio Ramon "ER" Ejercito that sought to reverse his disqualification as Laguna governor. (READ: ER Ejercito to SC: Void my disqualification)
The disqualified governor failed to secure a temporary restraining order (TRO) or a status quo ante order (SQAO) that would have halted his ouster. As a result, Laguna Vice Governor Ramil Hernandez took his oath Tuesday as the new Laguna governor.
"Upon written recommendation of the member in charge, respondents are required to COMMENT on the petition as well as the application for a SQAO or TRO/writ of preliminary injunction within 10 days from notice," SC Public Information Office chief Theodore Te said in a text message.
Also ordered to comment on Ejercito's plea before the High Court is his lone political rival in the May 2013 polls, former Liberal Party congressman Edgar "Egay" San Luis.
It was San Luis who filed before the Comelec a case against Ejercito for alleged campaign overspending, which led to the latter's disqualification.
With Ejercito filing on May 23 a petition for certiorari before the SC, Comelec gave him a 5-day deadline to stop his removal from office.
Ejercito's petition sought for a TRO or an SQAO, while the Court decides on the case.
Failing to secure either, Hernandez was sworn in Tuesday afternoon as the new governor of the province. San Luis was present during Hernandez's oath-taking.
Lawyer Enrique Dela Cruz, legal counsel for Ejercito, described as discourteous the implementation of the May 21 Comelec resolution. Dela Cruz said the Comelec resolution cannot be implemented, given the SC resolution issued on Monday.
"This only shows that the Comelec order is not yet final and cannot be implemented. To do so will be pre-empting the SC. It is an act of discourtesy," he said in a text message.
In his petition before the SC, Ejercito said the Comelec resolution "relied on documentary exhibit which was not formally offered as evidence" before the commission.
The Comelec considered as evidence of campaign overspending the amounts stated in two advertising contracts between ABS-CBN Corporation and Scenema Concept International Inc.
The latter produced the multi-award-winning biographical films Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story and El Presidente: General Emilio Aguinaldo Story, both featuring Ejercito.
Ejercito argued that he was disqualified "for an act done by a third party [which] simply exercised its right to free expression."
He also said that a probe and subsequent findings should have gone first before his disqualification.
"Worse, there is yet no finding of guilt by a competent court or a finding of fact stating that petitioner actually committed the alleged election offense of overspending," his petition read.
Ejercito cited Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code which requires a finding either by a court or the Comelec that he indeed committed an election offense before a petition for disqualification can be lodged against him. – Rappler.com