Comelec disqualifies Norzagaray mayor and councilor for vote-buying-A A +A
Thursday, October 3, 2013
MANILA -- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) disqualified Norzagaray, Bulacan Mayor Alfredo Gesmar and Councilor Rogelio Santos for alleged vote-buying in the May 13 midterm elections.
The Comelec First Division ruled to disqualify the Liberal Party (LP) local candidates, based on the complaint of losing mayoral bet, Feliciano Legaspi.
“Premises considered, the Commission resolves to disqualify Alfredo Gesmar and Rogelio Santos for the position of Mayor and Councilor of Norzagaray, Bulacan,” said the 15-page ruling.
The poll body added that there is “substantial evidence” warranting the disqualification of the two officials as part of the administrative sanction of the Comelec.
The case stemmed after the respondents’ political leaders gave out envelopes containing P500 each and sample ballots to residents of Brgy. Bitungol on May 11; and local LP leaders putting inks on voters’ fingers to prevent them from voting while promising the amount of P500 to P1,000 on Election Day.
The decision also did not buy the “alibi” of the respondents that there were all in attendance of the party’s meeting de avance on the night of May 11 as their presence “need not be proved in the place where the vote-buying acts happened."
Since they were disqualified, the Comelec said Gesmar should be replaced by Vice Mayor Arthur Legaspi while Santos’ replacement will be named by the provincial governor as provided by the Local Government Code.
Meanwhile, the poll body referred the criminal aspect of the case before the Law department for preliminary investigation against Gesmar, Esquivel, Santos, Dale Soliba, Dominador Rayo, Marivic Nunez, Adelaida Auza, Amelia Cruz, and Leonardo Ignacio for possible election offense cases, particularly vote-buying.
Vote-buying is defined as “giving, offering or promising money or anything of value directly or indirectly, in order to induce anyone or the public in general to vote for or against any candidate."
An election offense carries a penalty of one to six years imprisonment, removal of right to vote and disqualification from holding public office. (FP/Sunnex)