SC: Comelec was wrong to disqualify Antique's Javier

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) reversed the January 2015 order of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) annuling the election of Exequiel Javier as governor of Antique. 

In its en banc session on January 12, the High Tribunal said the poll body "gravely abused its discretion" when it disqualified Javier based on a provision in the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) that had already been repealed.

In January 2015, the Comelec en banc voted to disqualify Javier and annul his proclamation in 2013 on the basis of "coercion of subordinates." During the election period of the 2013 midterm polls, Javier had suspended Valderrama town mayor Mary Joyce Roquero, a political rival. Her suspension, however, was prohibited under the OEC.

In February 2015, Vice Governor Rhodora Cadiao took over as the new governor of the province.

Javier had filed a petition for certiorari with the SC challenging the Comelec's order.

In its ruling, the High Court noted that the provision on coercion of subordinates under the OEC – the basis for disqualifying Javier – no longer existed and had been repealed by Republic Act 7890.

"The Court noted that the jurisdiction of the Comelec to disqualify candidates is limited to election offenses under the Omnibus Election Code; all other election offenses are beyond its ambit as these are criminal in nature," the SC said. –