Just before 2016, recall proceedings underway in 3 LGUs

Michael Bueza
Just before 2016, recall proceedings underway in 3 LGUs
However, there might be not much time left to schedule recall elections. The Local Government Code gives Comelec only until May 8 to conduct the special polls.

MANILA, Philippines – The 2016 national election is just around the corner, but in 3 areas, voters may troop to polling precincts much earlier, if recall elections get scheduled.

Proceedings are ongoing in 3 local government units (LGUs), each in different stages of the recall process. If any of the recall petitions prosper, it would lead to a special election that may see the removal of local elected officials from office barely a year before the regular polls.

The verification of 35,731 signatures in the recall petition against Puerto Princesa Mayor Lucilo Bayron has been completed, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Region IV Director Juanito Icaro told Rappler on Wednesday, March 25.

However, pending before the Comelec en banc in Manila is an appeal by Bayron concerning the Puerto Princesa City election officer’s report on the verification process.

Bayron earlier protested what he considered the “railroading” of the “bogus” recall petition. He disrupted the verification of signatures on February 28 by tearing up a copy of an order extending the proceedings by several hours to wrap up the verification.

In the province of Bulacan, the validation of signatures in the petition to recall Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado is underway.

A staff in the office of acting Bulacan provincial election supervisor Temie Lambino told Rappler that the local Comelec offices in the province are in the middle of checking more than 300,000 signatures. They have 15 days to finish it.

The recall proceedings hit a snag in early March when Alvarado sought to stop it, claiming his right to due process was violated after lapses in the recall procedures were observed, reported GMA News.

A Bulacan regional trial court issued a temporary restraining order on the proceedings, but later lifted it on March 20. It dismissed Alvarado’s plea to halt the proceedings.

Another recall petition is being processed in Bulacan, this time in Baliuag town, against Mayor Carolina Dellosa.

The Comelec has allowed the posting and publication of copies of the petition, said lawyer Genevieve Guevarra of the Comelec Office of the Deputy Executive Director for Operations.

There might be not much time left to schedule a recall election, however. The Comelec has only until May 8 – a little over a month – to do so. The Local Government Code prohibits the conduct of any recall election within a year before a regular election and within a year from the date of the local officials’ assumption of office. The next regular election will be on May 9, 2016.

The power to recall a local elective official due to loss of confidence can be exercised by registered voters of the LGU where the official serves. Any provincial, city, municipal, or barangay official may be recalled.

In early 2014, the Comelec temporarily suspended all recall proceedings, citing lack of funds. The poll body only resumed taking up 5 pending recall petitions in November, around the same time the Supreme Court ordered the poll body to carry out the Puerto Princesa recall elections.

Insufficient petitions

Since then, two recall petitions have been declared insufficient by the Comelec.

Guevarra said that in December 2014, the Comelec, through Minute Resolution Number 14-0865, dismissed the recall petition against Mayor Marnelli Robles of Bulan, Sorsogon.

The Comelec en banc ruled that the petitioners submitted a defective certification of Bulan’s voting population. In addition, the requirements in the signature sheets – like names, addresses, and signatures of the petition’s supporters – “have not been properly and strictly complied with.”

The petition to recall Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno was also junked by the Comelec in February for lacking one important requirement.

The petition reportedly did not have “a brief narration of the reasons and justifications for the filing of the petition” in every page of the signature sheets, as required in Comelec Resolution Number 7505, reported SunStar Cagayan de Oro. – Rappler.com

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Michael Bueza

Michael is a data curator under Rappler's Tech Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.