AFTER the death of Mountain Province Representative Maximo Dalog, there is a prescribed period in filling the void in case a lawmaker is not able to complete his term, an official said.
Commission on Elections (Comelec) officer Elenita Tanbangin Capuyan said under the law, the void must be filled within a period of not more than 90 days with Congress issuing a resolution asking for a plebiscite or appointing a caretaker for the province until a plebiscite is called.
The Comelec officer, however, said the plebiscite cannot coincide with the scheduled village elections on October as it will lapse with the prescribed period stated in the law.
Dalog died June 3 and left the province without representation in the Congress.
Tabangin cites Republic Act 7166 or the “An Act Providing for Synchronized National and Local Elections and for Electoral Reforms, Authorizing Appropriations Therefor, And For Other Purposes,” as the guide for any confusion on the issue.
In Section 4, the provision for the postponement, failure of election and special elections stating the postponement, declaration of failure of election and the calling of special elections as provided in Sections 5, 6 and 7 of the Omnibus Election Code will be decided by the Commission sitting en banc by a majority vote of its members. The causes for the declaration of a failure of election may occur before or after the casting of votes or on the day of the election.
Congress must then, “in case a permanent vacancy occurs in the Senate or House of Representatives at least one (1) year before the expiration of the term, call Comelec to hold a special election to fill the vacancy not earlier than 60 days nor longer than 90 days after the occurrence of the vacancy.
However, in case of such vacancy in the Senate, the special election will be held simultaneously with the succeeding regular election.”
Tabangin said under the rules, the province will fund the plebiscite and will be reimbursed by the Comelec as stated in the Omnibnus Election Code under Section 10 which states “except in barangay elections, such expenses as may be necessary and reasonable in connection with the elections, referenda, plebiscites and other similar exercises shall be paid by the Commission. The Commission may direct that in the provinces, cities, or municipalities, the election expenses chargeable to the Commission be advanced by the province, city or municipality concerned subject to reimbursement by the Commission upon presentation of the proper bill.”
Funds needed by the Comelec to defray the expenses for the holding regular and special elections, referenda and plebiscites will be provided in the regular appropriations of the Commission which, upon request, will immediately be released to the Commission. In case of deficiency, the amount so provided shall be augmented from the special activities funds in the general appropriations act and from those specifically appropriated for the purpose in special laws.”
In an earlier interview with House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, he said the issue will be tackled when the Congress convenes before a caretaker could be appointed.