Supreme Court ousts Batangas mayor

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Thursday, February 14, 2013


MANILA -- A person who illegally substituted a candidate could never lay claim to the votes garnered during an election, the Supreme Court said last month in upholding the removal of Renato Federico as mayor of Sto. Tomas, Batangas, by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Federico substituted for then re-electionist Mayor Edna Sanchez when she withdrew her candidacy to replace her husband, gubernatorial candidate Armando Sanchez, who died on April 27, 2010 or roughly two weeks before the May 10, 2010 elections.

By the time Federico filed his certificate of candidacy on May 5, 2010, the official ballots had already been printed and the name "Sanchez, Edna P." was retained in the list of candidates and received the highest number of votes--28,389 against Osmundo Maligaya's 22,577.

Federico was declared winner in the mayoralty race after the Municipal Board of Canvassers credited Edna's votes to him. Aggrieved with the result, Maligaya asked the Comelec to annul Federico's proclamation, which the seven-man body granted last December 21, 2011.

Federico then turned to the SC, which dismissed his petition to reverse the Comelec ruling for lack of basis.

In a decision penned by Associate Justice Jose Mendoza, the Court unanimously held that Federico's substitution of Edna Sanchez was invalid, having been filed after the December 14, 2009 deadline provided for under Section 13 of Comelec Resolution No. 8678.

The Court disagreed with Federico's contention that the Comelec resolution cannot prevail over the provisions of Section 77 of The Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa Bilang 881), which provides that a "substitute candidate nominated by the political party concerned may file his certificate of candidacy for the office affected in accordance with the preceding sections not later than mid-day of the day of the election."

The Court said the Comelec has the power to set the early deadline for the filing of COC so that all candidates would be accommodated in the ballots to be used for the automated election.

"If there would be late filing and approval of COCs, the names of aspiring candidates would not be included in the ballot, the only document to be read by the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines," stated the ruling dated January 22.

As a result of this decision, the Court also lifted the temporary restraining order it issued on January 17, 2012, which enjoined the Comelec from proclaiming Maligaya as mayor. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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