Comelec dismisses case vs Rama, delos Santos

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Friday, August 29, 2014


CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama and Councilor Mary Ann delos Santos did not solicit votes in exchange for scholarship during the May 2013 elections.

The Commission on Election (Comelec) En Banc dismissed the complaint for violation of the Omnibus Election Code filed against the two officials.

The complaint was filed by Jenalyn Didal, Marilyn Albarracin and Edna Albarracin.

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The Comelec, in its resolution, found that the complaint lacked probable cause.

A copy of the resolution was furnished to the Office of Mayor Rama.

"Complainants failed to contend that the respondents solicited votes in exchange for scholarships," the decision read.

The six-page resolution was penned by Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes and Commissioners Lucenito Tagle, Elias Yusoph, Christian Robert Lim, Maria Grace Cielo Padaca, Al Parreño and Luie Tito Guia.

The three complainants, in their affidavit, narrated that in April last year, Rama and delos Santos attended a meeting at the Lahug Elementary School gym during the distribution of scholarship vouchers.

In the event, the two city officials, who were then candidates for the May 2013 elections, reportedly pleaded for support in their candidacy.

Delos Santos, who was then a candidate for city councilor, went up the stage to campaign for the whole Team Rama slate.

Rama, for his part, asked the parents and guardians of the scholarship beneficiaries to stand up if they support his team.

"Kinsa mo-support sa Team Rama, mobarog (Whoever supports Team Rama, stand)," the complaint quoted Rama.

It was further alleged that Rama told the audience to enumerate all the candidates under his team.

The complainants said that the acts were illegal and may be perceived as vote-buying since it was committed during the distribution of scholarship assistance.

In his defense, Rama told Comelec that the act of promoting candidates during the campaign period is not a prohibited act under the Omnibus Election Code.

He pointed out that giving scholarship vouchers is an annual program of the City and there was nothing irregular committed since it is his official function as the sitting mayor.

Rama also denied the allegations that he told the audience to enumerate the names of the candidates of Team Rama.

After reading both parties' respective memorandum, Comelec resolved that there was no vote-buying during the activity since neither Rama nor delos Santos offered or gave money.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 29, 2014.

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