THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Misamis Oriental has ordered the Office of the Mayor of Jasaan town to strictly observe the Fair Elections Act and other Comelec pertinent rules.
The poll body addressed the resolution to the Office of the Mayor of the town in general, and not particularly to the incumbent mayor, Julius Pagaspas, to set a reminder to other local government units.
In a two-page resolution penned by Provincial Election Supervisor Aleli Dayo-Ramirez, the Comelec said the municipal mayor's office of Jasaan appears to have given unfair treatment between Team Unity party and Padayon Pilipino for allowing the former to set a political rally, but hindered the latter.
The resolution was signed on April 12 but a copy of the resolution was shared to the media from the camp of Padayon Pilipino on April 21.
The issue started when the office of the town mayor refused Padayon Pilipino to hold a rally on April 10. It turned out that the office approved the rival party's request to hold a rally on the same date.
The Comelec's resolution granted eight schedules to Padayon Pilipino to conduct rallies in Jasaan between April 12 to May 5; the same way it upheld Team Unity's schedules but in different dates to avoid conflict.
Floramae Jo Abbu, campaign team coordinator of Padayon Pilipino, said in her affidavit that he went to the office of the municipal mayor of Jasaan on March 28 to give a letter of request.
"That instead of receiving our letter for the permit to hold rally, the officer-in-charge of the Office of the Municipal Mayor has rejected our letter request and refused to receive the same, on the ground that the said office does not grant permits to hold political rallies," Abbu said.
The officer-in-charge Abbu was referring to was later identified as Charito Y. Mercado based on the report provided by Lailani A. Nazi, Acting Election Officer-III of Comelec stationed in Jasaan.
Under Nazi's report, it was found out that Mercado acted on her own, being an officer-in-charge that day when Abbu went to the municipal mayor's office.
"According to Mercado, it was her first time to encounter such letter-request asking for a permit to hold public rally on a public place, thus she decided to seek first the guidance of the municipal mayor," Nazi's report read.
"However, based on the affidavit of Mercado, she was unable to connect to the line of the mayor, who was then out of the office. Without any superior to guide her, she told the bearer that she cannot receive the letter-request of Padayon Pilipino pending the instruction of the Municipal Mayor," the report added.
But to Board Member President Elipe, who is running as vice-governor, it was a form of political harassment because it was common knowledge that the mayor is not allied with Padayon Pilipino party.
"Hopefully, this would set as example sa uban kay klaro man to nga (because this is a clear) political harassment. We are happy that the Comelec has acted on the complaint. Dili ally sa (He is not allied with) Padayon Pilipino ang (the) mayor sa (of) Jasaan," he said.