2022 Philippine Elections

Comelec: Prospero Pichay’s failed 2022 congressional bid invalid in the first place

Dwight de Leon

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Comelec: Prospero Pichay’s failed 2022 congressional bid invalid in the first place

FORMER CONGRESSMAN. Prospero Pichay during a press conference in the House of Representatives in February 2019.

House of Representatives

The Comelec nullifies the candidacy of former lawmaker Prospero Pichay for his 2022 congressional race – one which he lost anyway – saying a past Ombudsman ruling against him already disqualified him from holding public office

MANILA, Philippines – Nearly two years since former lawmaker Prospero “Butch” Pichay Jr. failed in his reelection bid to represent Surigao del Sur’s 1st District in Congress, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) ruled that his candidacy was invalid in the first place.

The Comelec en banc, in a ruling dated Tuesday, April 30, nullified Pichay’s certificate of candidacy (COC), granting his rival’s petition that sought to bar him from running due to a previous conviction that carried with it the penalty of disqualification from public office.

The case that became Pichay’s undoing was released in 2011 by the Ombudsman, which found him guilty of grave misconduct due to misuse of funds when he was chairperson of the Local Water Utilities Administration.

The petitioner – now-Surigao del Sur 1st District Representative Romeo Momo Sr. – had argued in his filing that Pichay committed false misrepresentation in his COC when he stated that he was eligible to run for public office.

In making the decision, the Comelec en banc set aside the 1st Division ruling issued in February 2022, which originally junked Momo’s petition on the justification that Pichay had a pending appeal before the Supreme Court.

The Comelec en banc on Tuesday said that the Ombudsman’s decision was immediately executory regardless of appeals filed, based on the amended Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman.

“Necessarily, it is the entirety of the Ombudsman decision – and hence, the entirety of the penalty imposed, including accessory penalties – that must be implemented and executed as a matter of course,” the ruling read.

“The [Comelec] is one of those concerned who are duty bound to implement the decision of the Ombudsman. The law requires the execution and implementation of the decision as a whole, and not partly or only some of it,” the ruling added.

Six of the seven-member en banc signed the ruling. Only Commissioner Marlon Casquejo, who was part of the 1st Division in February 2022, took no part in the resolution.

Momo unseated Pichay in that close match in 2022, garnering 50% of the total votes compared to Pichay’s 46%. Rappler.com

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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.