THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has ruled that all petitions for recall in the country, including the one filed recently by the camp of former Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Vicente Emano aimed at unseating incumbent Mayor Oscar Moreno, will not be acted upon by the poll body in the meantime.
In its Minute Resolution No. 14-0522, dated July 22, 2014, the Comelec central office ordered all regional election directors (REDs) to comply with the recommendations of Comelec deputy executive director for operations Bartolome Sinocruz Jr., among them the suspension of recall petition within their jurisdictions.
Citing the order of the election commissioners, Sinocruz, in his September 2, 2014 memorandum to the REDs, has directed the latter to carry out the Comelec resolution.
The resolution was signed by Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., and commissioners Lucenito Tagle, Elias Yusoph, Christian Robert Lim, Maria Gracia Cielo Padaca, Al Parreño, and Luie Tito Guia.
“The Commission resolved, as it hereby resolves, to approve the foregoing recommendations of [Sinocruz] as follows: 1. To suspend action on the Petition for Recall of Mayor Oscar S. Moreno of Cagayan de Oro, in view of Comelec Resolution No. 9882; and 2. To return to the Office of the Election Office (OEO) of Cagayan de Oro City all documents submitted to the Office of the Deputy Executive Director for Operations (ODEDO) in relation to the petition for the recall of [Moreno], including the Manager’s Check in the amount of Php50,000.00, for safekeeping until further orders of the Commission,” the resolution read.
It added that “the policy for safekeeping of documents relative to petition for recall shall be applicable to all subsequent similar petitions for recall.”
Wait for the order
Lawyer Aleli Ramirez, the city election officer, said she will just wait for the order from the Comelec main office in Manila whether to push through with the recall election or not.
Once the Comelec has approved the petition for recall, the Commission will then order the local government unit chief, such as the mayor or governor, to vacate his/her position, and a recall election will be conducted to fill the vacant position.
Ramirez said that after the Emano camp’s petition for recall was filed the Comelec had ruled it will not act on it since budget constraint issues have not yet been resolved.
“If naay mag-file, it’s for safekeeping lang sa. Dili siya i-dismiss (It will not be dismissed), but it won’t be acted upon either. It will be considered as ‘deemed filed,’” Ramirez told Sun.Star Thursday afternoon.
Ramirez did not comment when asked by this paper what are the chances the Comelec will approve the holding of recall election before the national and local elections in 2016.
On July 3, 2014, the recall petition and its supporting documents were submitted to Ramirez’s office by city councilor Leon Gan Jr., who also acted as the legal counsel for the petitioners.
On July 18, 2014, Ramirez submitted the documents to the office of Sinocruz, the following: 10 copies of the recall petition; 10 boxes of petitioners of about 71,500-plus registered voters; certification from the city election officer that the petitioners paid the prescribed filing fee; certification of sufficiency of petition and that all the requirements set by the Comelec Resolution No. 7505 have been complied with; and soft copies of the petition.
In its Resolution No. 9882, entitled “In the Matter of the Budgetary Requirements for the Process of Recall,” the Comelec had resolved “not to continue with any proceedings relative to recall as it does not have a line item budget or legal authority to commit public funds for the purpose.”
The Commission added that until a law is passed by Congress appropriating fund for recall elections – either by approving the Commission’s budget proposal for fiscal year (FY) 2015 or through a supplemental (special) appropriations for FY 2014 – any proceeding relative to the instant petition for recall should be suspended further.
“In view of the afore-quoted Resolution, the ODEDO will suspend action on the petition for the recall of [Moreno], City Mayor of Cagayan de Oro City,” the resolution added.
For her part, city information officer Maricel Casiño-Rivera said the petitioners were already aware of the Comelec decision, but they kept on pushing with the filing of the recall petition as a form of political show-of-force.
“Long before they filed it, they (petitioners) already knew the Comelec will not entertain the petition for recall due to budget constraints, and yet they still filed the petition. Their only intention was to show the people that they are still there,” Rivera said.
“Para lang mahisgutan sila ug mabuhi lang gihapon ang paglaum sa ilang mga tawo (This is just to talk about them and to keep the hopes of their supporters). They should just wait for 2016,” she added.