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MANILA, Philippines – Just days after the start of filing of the certificate of candidacy, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) canceled the December 9 special election in Negros Oriental’s 3rd legislative district.
This decision was made on Wednesday, November 8, a day after the House of Representatives adopted a resolution asking the poll body to “reconsider” the special election “given all the existing circumstances and present predicament affecting the province.”
The resolution was signed by speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez. According to Comelec, the House leadership invited them to a meeting on Tuesday, November 7, and informed them about the plan to cancel the elections.
Comelec Chairman George Erwin Garcia said they secured a copy of the resolution on Wednesday.
According to Garcia, the reasons for the cancellation included a petition for certiorari filed by Arnolfo Teves Jr. before the Supreme Court, challenging his removal as a member of the House of Representatives.
Teves was the first sitting congressman to be designated a terrorist by the Anti-Terrorism Council back in August, along with several others who were allegedly involved in the Degamo slay and other politically motivated killings in Negros Oriental. Teves was also the first member of the House of Representatives to be expelled.
The ex-congressman, who has a warrant out for his arrest for his alleged role in the assassination of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo, and the killing of nine others, has been out of the country since February and has refused to return.
Additionally, the pending disqualification cases against the winning candidates in the recently concluded barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in the Central Visayas were also cited as contributing factors.
The resolution also states that the special elections “under the present circumstances may have a negative impact on the peace and order situation not only in the district but also in the surrounding areas in the province.”
Garcia said that they were just following the House of Representatives.
“The Congress has the power to call for a special election, and it is also within their power not to call for a special election. This authority lies with them. The Comelec will simply carry out the instructions of the House of Representatives in this matter, as it is composed of their members. Therefore, this pertains to a question of membership and should be resolved by the House of Representatives,” Garcia said.
Last August, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution certifying the vacancy of the seat and calling the poll body to conduct a special election to fill the vacant position.
Before the poll body called off the special elections, Pryde Henry Teves, retired colonel Reynaldo Lopez, and Bacong town, Negros Oriental, Mayor Lenin Alviola filed their certificate of candidacies. Henry is Arnie Teves’ younger brother.
– with reports from John Sitchon/Rappler.com