SIXTEEN more candidates in the 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) in Cebu are facing disqualification cases due to alleged violations of prescribed election practices, an officer from the Commission on Elections in Central Visayas (Comelec 7) said Monday, Nov. 13, 2023.
This number adds to the three candidates in Cebu whose proclamations, following their victories in the BSKE, are suspended due to various disqualification cases. Gian Vincent Sinda, who ran and won as a councilor in Barangay Buanoy in Balamban town, Cebu, along with Maguikay Barangay Captain Eduardo Gumera in Mandaue City, and Valladolid Barangay Captain Anthony John Apura in Carcar City, are still awaiting proclamation after their victories were jeopardized due to pending criminal cases.
In an interview on Monday, Ivan Jason delos Santos, the administrative officer of Comelec 7, said the violations of these 16 candidates include alleged premature and illegal campaigning, as well as alleged vote-buying and selling.
Of the 16 candidates facing disqualification cases, five are from Compostela town; three are from Lapu-Lapu City; two from Cebu City (one each from barangays Labangon and Pardo), and one each from the towns of Dalaguete, Pilar, Barili, San Fernando, Tabogon and San Remigio.
However, delos Santos did not specify how many of these candidates ran for barangay and SK positions.
He added that, for now, he cannot confirm whether these candidates won or lost, as they are still verifying their records.
He said they are still awaiting a resolution from the Comelec’s law department on the disqualification cases against the 16 BSKE candidates in Cebu.
Last Friday, Nov. 10, the Comelec central office in Manila announced the automatic disqualification of 21 candidates due to violation of premature campaigning rules. Of the number, 10 won their electoral bids.
Delos Santos confirmed that of the 21 disqualified candidates, none are from Cebu or any provinces in Central Visayas.
Meanwhile, delos Santos disclosed that 10 more BSKE candidates outside Cebu are facing disqualification cases for alleged violations of election practices.
Six of these candidates hail from Bohol, and the remaining four are from Negros Oriental. Of the six candidates from Bohol, two are from Jagna town, and one each from the towns of Talibon, Calape, Candijay and Garcia-Hernandez. The candidates from Negros Oriental are from the cities of Dumaguete, Bais, and Bayawan, and Santa Catalina town.
The Comelec had previously reported a disqualification case involving a candidate from San Jose town, who ran for the position of barangay chair.
Under the law, it is illegal for any individual, whether a voter, candidate or any party or group, to engage in election campaigning or partisan political activities outside of the campaign period, as stated in Section 80 of the Philippine Omnibus Election Code.
Comelec said premature campaigning will be treated as an election offense, and candidates who disregard this would be liable for election code violations.
The 2023 BSKE campaign period started on Oct. 19 and ended on Oct. 28. Vote-buying and vote-selling, classified as election offenses under Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code, carry penalties of imprisonment ranging from one to six years.
Convicted individuals lose the right to vote and are barred from holding public office. Political parties engaging in vote-buying may also face penalties.
Delos Santos said he could not determine how long these disqualification cases will take to be resolved, but he assured that the election body is fast-tracking these cases
However, if found guilty, winning candidates should step down from their positions and face sanctions and penalties.
“Naay mga kandidato nga naay mga disqualification cases. Mo-take oath man sila no, mo-hurar, molingkod sila, but if they are found to be disqualified, then they ought to vacate their positions,” he said.
(Some candidates have disqualification cases. They take an oath, they are sworn to office, and they take the seat, but if they are later found to be disqualified, then they ought to vacate their positions).
He added that, currently, there are a total of 120 pending disqualification cases in the country.