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MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will deliberate the suspension order against Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and 13 other city officials issued by Malacanang after the May 9 national and local polls.
Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista said they decided not to rule on the request of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to grant an exemption on the suspension order during election ban.
“There is a preference for the status quo since the only exception provided in the law is if it is a violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,” he explained.
He cited their Minute Resolution 16-0222 dated March 29, wherein the poll body acceded to the recommendation of the Comelec Law Department not to act on requests for exemptions to the election ban to suspend local officials.
“The Commission resolves to approve with modification the foregoing recommendation of the Law Department to defer actions on requests for authority to suspend local elective officials until after the May 9 national and local elections,” the poll body said.
Comelec Resolution 9981 prohibits the suspension of elective local officials during the election period, which is from January 10 to June 8.
Under the Omnibus Election Code (OEC), it is considered a prohibited act to suspend elective local officials during the election period without prior approval of the Commission, unless the case involves violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
But, Bautista noted that they will still discuss the case of Cebu officials after the polls next month.
“We decided to honor our existing resolution. So we deferred action on the request until after May 9,” he added.
The Office of the President has ordered the six months suspension of Rama, Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, and 12 city councilors over the release of calamity assistance to City Government employees, who were allegedly not victims of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake and super typhoon “Yolanda” that hit Cebu in 2013. – Rappler.com