Raffy Tulfo

SC affirms dismissal of disqualification case vs Senator Raffy Tulfo

Jairo Bolledo

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SC affirms dismissal of disqualification case vs Senator Raffy Tulfo

LAWMAKER. In this photo, Senator Raffy Tulfo presides over the senate hearing on the lapses of power outages in Panay Island, on January 10, 2024.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

Once a winning candidate has been proclaimed, taken oath, and assumed office, the Senate Electoral Tribunal assumes jurisdiction over the said candidate, the Supreme Court says

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld the dismissal of the disqualification case against Senator Raffy Tulfo.

SC affirms dismissal of disqualification case vs Senator Raffy Tulfo

In its ruling, the High Court reiterated that the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) has the exclusive jurisdiction over disqualification case against winning senatorial candidates who were already proclaimed, had taken oath, and assumed office. SC magistrates decided the case on April 3, the SC Public Information Office said.

Citing section 17, article VI of the 1987 Constitution and relevant jurisprudence, the High Court clarified in the decision the division of powers in cases like election disputes. Once winning candidates have been proclaimed, taken oath, and assumed office, the SET assumes jurisdiction or coverage over them, and the Commission on Election (Comelec) loses its jurisdiction over the candidate in relation to election contests stemming from the poll, returns, or disqualification cases.

The High Court explained that Julieta Licup Pearson, who filed the disqualification case against Tulfo, failed to file in time the appropriate case with the SET and “cannot remedy this failure by invoking the Court’s certiorari powers.” Certiorari is legal remedy used to review a body’s decision or grave abuse of discretion.

Broadcast journalist Tulfo won in the 2022 senatorial elections. A month before the polls, Pearson, his alleged wife, filed the disqualification case based on the following grounds:

  • Tulfo had been convicted of libel, a crime involving moral turpitude
  • Allegedly committed an election offense by “illegally” advertising his candidates on his show “Raffy Tulfo in Action”

The Comelec’s First Division junked Pearson’s petition for failure to attach the required proof of service.

Tulfo garnered over 23.1 million votes in the 2022 elections, and finished third in the Senate race. He was later proclaimed as a winner, took his oath, and assumed office. His wife moved for reconsideration in the case, but the Comelec denied the motion for lack of jurisdiction.

Pearson elevated the case to the High Court, where she filed a petition for certiorari.

In her petition, Pearson claimed she married Tulfo in October 1982 in Capas, Tarlac, and that their marriage was never nullified. Tulfo, as early as 2019, admitted he had a child with Pearson, but claimed that she was just trying to extort money from him. – Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.