Pe’s ‘disqualification’-A A +A
Friday, February 15, 2013
ALL the three Cebu English newspapers yesterday bannered Cebu City North Councilor Jun Pe’s disqualification by the Commission on Elections to run for the same position in the South District. A huge photo of the disenfranchised bet accompanied each story.
Pe is a lucky guy. Because of the Comelec decision he got free advertisement, which would have been more expensive than all the tarpaulins that he had strung all over his newly adopted district but which, because it is free, would not count in his quota of election expenses.
But why would his free ride matter now that he is disqualified, one might ask. Because the Comelec decision is not the end of the line for him. True, the Comelec did rule that he cannot run in the south but for the wrong reason and Jun knows it.
Pe is on his third term as Cebu City councilor. Under the Constitution, this is supposed to be his last; he has to sit out at least one election before he can run for the same position again. The language of the provision is clear and unmistakable.
But Pe claims that the position of Cebu City councilor in the North is different from that of Cebu City councilor in the South so he is not barred from moving his campaign headquarters southward. Unfortunately, the Comelec First Division appears to support this legal hocus pocus.
Pe is not barred by the constitutional three-term limit, the Comelec says but it is not convinced that he has met the residency requirement in his new district.
“We find it hard to comprehend how respondent could claim to be considerably immersed with the problems, aspirations, interests, views, opinions and circumstances affecting the general welfare of the people of the south district,” the poll body said in its resolution as quoted by Sun.Star Cebu.
The Comelec’s favorable ruling on a legal question gave the candidate that they disqualified a lifeline. “The three-term limit rule was the heavier allegation,” Pe admitted during his conference. “But the question of residency is not that hard to prove.”
Pe has more than enough opportunities to do that. First, there is the motion for reconsideration that he announced he would file. Then he can go to the Supreme Court. All these can take time.
It is therefore too early for Pe’s political enemies to gloat. Pe’s name has already been included in the ballot and can no longer be deleted, according to Comelec Regional Director Temie Lambino. Lawyer Delon Urot’s claim that votes for Pe will be considered stray is true only if at the time of the election, the decision to disqualify him has become final and executory. Otherwise, the votes will be counted and if Pe wins, he will have to be proclaimed.
I have nothing against Pe but I am convinced that he should be disqualified because of the three-term rule. The Comelec ruling is disappointing because it encourages politicians to do indirectly what the Constitution says they cannot do directly. I hope that the Supreme Court will eventually declare that the Comelec decision is wrong because it is injurious to the Constitution.
The United Nationalist Alliance rally here last Tuesday was a success because it drew a sizable crowd which, according to Mayor Mike Rama, would have even been bigger had the Land Transportation Office and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board not barred mini-buses carrying their supporters from proceeding to the rally site at the Plaza Independencia.
So, it was a hakot crowd. But what’s wrong with that? As retired Judge Vic Montecillo told me and lawyer Gloria Lastimosa Dalawampu at the Capitol yesterday, attendance in a political rally is absolutely dependent on the budget. He’s right, of course.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 15, 2013.