ORIENTAL MINDORO, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) reversed its previous ruling that disqualified Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba from the 2022 local race he had won.
Rappler learned from a credible source that the Comelec en banc, in a decision dated Monday, March 6, ruled that the disqualification petition filed against Mamba can no longer be heard by the poll body since it was belatedly filed, and therefore no longer falls under its jurisdiction.
According to the Comelec, the petition of Mamba’s rival Zarah Lara was considered filed on May 11 at 8 am, because it was sent via email after working hours on May 10. Thus, the official filing came hours after the poll body proclaimed Mamba as winner of the gubernatorial race at 1:39 am.
“The commission cannot stress enough that the belated filing of the subject petition is not merely a procedural lapse. It is a jurisdictional infirmity that goes into the authority of the commission to resolve the issues surrounding respondent’s disqualification,” read the ruling, a copy which was seen by Rappler.
“To rule and resolve the issue on respondent’s disqualification based on a petition filed belatedly amounts to an outright transgression of existing law and jurisprudence which provide that the proclamation of winning candidate bars the filing of a subsequent petition for disqualification,” it added.
Six members of the Comelec en banc voted to overturn the Comelec’s 2nd Division order in December, including commissioners Nelson Celis and Marlon Casquejo, who previously voted to disqualify Mamba.
Commissioner Rey Bulay, who also previously voted to bar Mamba from the 2022 gubernatorial race, took no part in the en banc resolution.
The Comelec’s 2nd Division previously ruled that Mamba violated a 45-day ban on the release of public funds during the campaign period.
“Why would [Mamba] disburse public funds during the prohibited 45-day period, insomuch as there is even no obvious or reasonable urgency and dire necessity to give payouts and spend for patrol cars, transport vehicles, freezers, and vehicles?” the 2nd Division ruling had read.
Mamba won the May 2022 polls with around a 52% share of the votes, compared to Lara’s 47%. – Rappler.com
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