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MANILA, Philippines – A month since the Commission on Elections (Comelec) ruled to nullify the party-list registration of An Waray, the poll body made the decision final and executory.
This is after the Supreme Court ignored the group’s request to issue an order that could have blocked the Comelec decision.
Rappler obtained a copy of the certificate of finality and entry of judgment issued to parties involved in the case on Tuesday, September 19.
“No restraining order has been issued by the Supreme Court within 30 days from the receipt of the parties of the resolution that would preclude the August 14, 2023 resolution of this commission en banc from being final and executory,” the document read.
The ball is now in the House leadership’s court, on whether to simply unseat An Waray Representative Florencio “Bem” Noel, or whether the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal would first handle the matter.
“We are waiting for the formal notification from Comelec,” House Secretary General Reginald Velasco told Rappler on Wednesday, September 20, when asked about what would happen to Noel.
Why was An Waray’s papers nullified?
The Comelec punished An Waray for letting its second nominee assume a congressional seat 10 years ago despite the absence of a certificate of proclamation from the poll body.
In May 2013, An Waray was among the top vote-getters in the party-list race, ranking 14th overall out of over 100 names on the ballot. It was among the groups proclaimed first in May that year, which meant it was guaranteed one seat, “without prejudice to the allocation of additional seats” consistent with a complex formula for party-list seat allocations.
In June 2013, the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) issued a certificate of proclamation to first nominee Bem Noel, and in July, resolved to “note” his request to issue another certificate of proclamation to his sister, second nominee Victoria Noel.
Victoria Noel took her oath of office the same month, but in August, another NBOC resolution indicated that An Waray was only entitled to one seat.
In May 2019, a petition was filed seeking to cancel An Waray’s registration, citing the incident in 2013. It argued that An Waray violated the party-list law because it failed to comply with election rules.
The Comelec ruled in favor of the petition, saying Victoria Noel’s stint in the House was a clear violation of party-list rules.
An Waray argued that the HRET, not the Comelec, had jurisdiction over the legality of Victoria Noel’s assumption in the House, and that the supposed election offense had already prescribed, but the poll body did not address these arguments.
The petitioners in the case include incumbent lawmaker Jude Acidre, who now represents Tingog, another party-list group based in Eastern Visayas. He used to be the original second nominee of An Waray in 2013, until he resigned due to “personal reasons.” – Rappler.com