2022 Philippine Elections

Comelec blocks Lakas bet’s gubernatorial bid in Sultan Kudarat

Dwight de Leon
Comelec blocks Lakas bet’s gubernatorial bid in Sultan Kudarat
Central to the case is the issue of residency, as petitioners argued he filed his candidacy for gubernatorial race in Sultan Kudarat when he was still mayor of a different province

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec), in a final decision, barred a former mayor of a town in Maguindanao province from seeking the gubernatorial post in Sultan Kudarat due to issue of residency.

In a vote of 4-2, the Comelec en banc denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Lakas-CMD candidate Datu Pax Ali Mangudadatu and upheld the First Division’s ruling in January to cancel his certificate of candidacy (COC).

Two petitions filed against Mangudadatu had argued that he committed false material representation in his candidacy papers when he stated that he had been a resident of Lutayan, Sultan Kudarat for one year and eight months at the time of filing in October 2021.

Petitioners had said that can’t be true because at the time, he was still town mayor of Datu Abdullah Singki in Maguindanao, a different province.

Mangudadatu later admitted that he was indeed still mayor of the Datu Abdullah Singki when he filed his COC, but maintained he resigned in November that year “to abandon his former residence and occupation as mayor of the municipality of Datu Abdullah Singki, Maguindanao, and to re-establish, as he has already re-established, his domicile in Sultan Kudarat.”

The Comelec en banc said the First Division made the right call, as Mangudadatu’s claim that he had been a resident of Lutayan, Sutan Kudarat at the time when he filed his candidacy papers “runs contrary to the facts.”

“The Commission (First Division) correctly found that [Mangudadatu] committed false material representation under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code in his subject COC,” the en banc resolution read.

In the seven-member en banc, commissioners Marlon Casquejo and Aimee Torrefranca-Neri cast dissenting votes. Commissioner George Garcia inhibited himself from the case, saying one of the parties was once his client.

The Local Government Code of 1991 compels local candidates to be a resident of that locality for at least one year before election day.

Mangudadatu can still run to the Supreme Court, which could halt the Comelec decision. Until the High Court intervenes, votes cast for him on election day will be considered stray.

He is supporting the presidential bid of dictator’s son Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for the May polls.

His exclusion from the race leaves Aksyon candidate Baisharifa Mangudadatu as the sole aspirant for the seat of power in Sultan Kudarat’s provincial hall. The female Mangudadatu is a former beauty queen, and is the wife of Maguindanao 2nd district Representative Esmael Mangudadatu. – Rappler.com

Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers local government units and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.