Rosal remains Legazpi mayor for now after SC blocks Comelec disqualification order

Dwight de Leon

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Rosal remains Legazpi mayor for now after SC blocks Comelec disqualification order

SETBACK. Legazpi City Mayor Carmen Geraldine Rosal, shown here during an oath-taking ceremony, is disqualified by the Commission on Elections for engaging in vote-buying.

Rhaydz Barcia/Rappler

(1ST UPDATE) 'Trust the Supreme Court as the last arbiter of the law of the land. The justices will hear your voices and respect our democracy,' says Legazpi Mayor Geraldine Rosal's husband Noel

MANILA, Philippines – Legazpi Mayor Geraldine Rosal’s last-minute Hail Mary to the Supreme Court worked, after the High Court prevented a disqualification order issued by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) against her from taking effect.

The Supreme Court issued a status quo ante order on Thursday, May 11, which basically means Rosal would not be kicked out of office anytime soon.

The directive blocks the Comelec’s move to disqualify Rosal from the 2022 mayoral race she had won on the grounds of vote-buying.

This is even though the Comelec had already issued a certificate of finality on the case on Wednesday, May 11.

Had the Supreme Court not intervened, a special board of canvassers would have convened not later than May 20 to proclaim mayoral race second placer and former congressman Alfredo Garbin Jr. as the new mayor of Legazpi.

The Supreme Court also required the following parties to file a consolidated comment within 10 days from notice of the status quo ante order:

  • Comelec
  • Garbin
  • Rosal
  • Vice Mayor Bobby Cristobal, who asked the Supreme Court to declare the Comelec resolution invalid, or declare him as the legitimate successor should the High Court uphold the disqualification order against Rosal
  • Joseph San Agustin Armogila, the original petitioner who was a candidate for councilor in Legazpi in 2022

Garbin was the second placer in the 2022 Legazpi mayoral election, losing to Rosal by only around 500 votes.

Traditionally, candidates disqualified after the elections are replaced with the second-in-command – in this case, Vice Mayor Cristobal – but the Comelec cited multiple Supreme Court rulings to justify its decision to designate the race’s second placer as Rosal’s successor.

The Comelec said it has received the Supreme Court’s status quo ante order and would comply.

Why was Rosal being kicked out of office?

The seven-member Comelec en banc unanimously disqualified Rosal in early May, although a closer reading of the ruling indicates that they were in disagreement on why she should be expelled from public office.

The main resolution (ponencia) stated that she was being punished for engaging in vote-buying activities in connection with a financial aid distribution event during the 2022 campaign period.

That cash rollout was approved by her husband Noel Rosal, who, at the time, was outgoing mayor of Legazpi and was seeking to run for Albay governor.

But separate manifestations of three Comelec commissioners insisted Geraldine should be disqualified for violating the campaign spending ban.

Husband Noel was already kicked out of the provincial hall back in December 2022 due to the consequences of the same financial aid distribution event.

But the Comelec at the time said he did not commit vote-buying, only a violation of the campaign spending ban.

Rosal remains Legazpi mayor for now after SC blocks Comelec disqualification order

Noel Rosal welcomed the order favoring his wife.

“Trust the Supreme Court as the last arbiter of the law of the land. The justices will hear your voices and respect our democracy. They will see the truth that our conscience is clear,” he said.

The Rosals have insisted time and again they did not violate the election code.

“The cash assistance was due them because it was a program of the local government. I was just invited, but I can’t say that just because I was there, they would vote for me,” Geraldine said on Thursday, May 11, prior to the Supreme Court’s issuance of a status quo ante order.

“We can’t think of any other reason but that we are being singled out [by Comelec] and we don’t know why,” she added.

The mayor also said, “We thank God for he heard the prayers of the Legazpeños.” She thanked those who sacrificed their time and effort and those who participated in the peaceful protest. “We can continue to work together for the progress of the city,” she said.

Rosal remains Legazpi mayor for now after SC blocks Comelec disqualification order

A thanksgiving mass will be held at 5 pm on Thursday at city hall to be led by Bishop Joel “Bong” Baylon.

On Friday, a day after the Supreme Court issued a relief, Geraldine said: “Your votes should be respected and we need to fight for it. This is not my lone battle. This is your fight. I’m fighting for you and will not allowed that your votes will be trampled. Join me in this battle. Together we will win this fight.”

“I’m grateful to the Supreme Court for their prompt actions on our petition. To the people who are with us on this battle. You didn’t abandon us and fight for your sacred votes to protect our democracy.I was very confident that the Supreme Court will not allow the flip-flopping and highly erroneous decision of the Comelec to remove me from office,” she said. – with reports from Rhaydz Barcia/

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!
Avatar photo


Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.