Comelec again disqualifies Cagayan’s Mamba from 2022 gubernatorial election

Dwight de Leon

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Comelec again disqualifies Cagayan’s Mamba from 2022 gubernatorial election

LOCAL EXEC. Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba during Day 2 of the Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness at SM Aura Premier's Samsung Hall in Taguig City on July 8, 2017.

Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

The move comes days after the Supreme Court said the Comelec abused its discretion when it junked a similar disqualification case filed by another petitioner against Mamba

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) again moved to disqualify Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba from the electoral race he had won in 2022, the latest blow to the embattled politician who had recently lost an important Supreme Court battle.

In a ruling dated Wednesday, April 24, the Comelec’s 1st Division said Mamba, during the campaign period in 2022, released public funds despite the 45-day period of prohibition under Comelec Resolution No. 10747.

Petitioner Victorio Casauay had claimed that Mamba and other respondents in the case “provided financial aid, scholarship grants, and various transport vehicles to the constituents of the province of Cagayan using public funds,” and did not report the activities to the Comelec.

Mamba had argued that Comelec Resolution No. 10747 only refers to public works projects, not social welfare programs of the provincial government, but the poll body did not accept his excuse.

“It has been settled that the prohibition in Comelec Resolution No. 10747 clearly applies to local government units and that it includes ongoing, non-infrastructure programs,” the ruling read.

“While Manuel indeed has a duty to serve his constituents, it does not mean that he can do so as he sees fit. Regardless of the position held, a public official does not have an unbounded freedom to exercise their powers, more so if these are restrictions set by law,” it added.

The ruling was signed by commissioners Socorro Inting, Aimee Ferolino, and Ernesto Maceda Jr.

The decision is appealable, which means Mamba can elevate the matter to the Comelec en banc, allowing Chairman George Garcia and three other commissioners to weigh in on the case.

Not the first time

This is not the first time that the Comelec moved to nullify Mamba’s election victory in May 2022.

In December that year, the Comelec’s 2nd Division – composed of commissioners Marlon Casquejo, Rey Bulay, and Nelson Celis – already disqualified Mamba for the same offense, in relation to his “No Barangay Left Behind” and “No Town Left Behind” programs.

The petitioner that time was not Casauay but Zarah Lara, whom Mamba defeated in the 2022 gubernatorial race.

When the case reached the Comelec en banc, it overturned the division ruling in March 2023, saying that Lara’s petition was filed out of time. All but Commissioner Bulay voted in favor of that move.

On Monday, April 22, the Supreme Court said the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion when it junked Lara’s petition. It sent the case back to the poll body for proper disposition of the disqualification case.

Mamba’s election win has been challenged not just in the Comelec and the Supreme Court, but also in the House of Representatives.

Numerous hearings have been held – initiated by Zarah’s husband Cagayan 3rd District Representative Joseph Lara – to investigate alleged 2022 election irregularities in Cagayan.

In August 2023, the House ordered his arrest over his failure to justify the absence of provincial hall officials from one of the earlier hearings.

He was released within the same day of his surrender after the Supreme Court stopped the chamber from enforcing the arrest order. –

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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.