Bulacan recall petition pushed

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MALOLOS CITY: The Commission on Elections (Comelec) started its verification process on Wednesday as part of the recall petition against Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado of Bulacan.

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This despite the temporary testraining order (TRO) issued by the Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 83 on March 6, 2015, enjoining Provincial Election Supervisor (PES) Jerbee Anthony Cortez from conducting further proceedings regarding the recall process.

The verification centers in Bulacan have 15 days to validate the authenticity of more than 300,000 names and signatures, in accordance with the Comelec Resolution No. 7505, or the rules and regulations for recall. A recall petition needs at least 25 percent of the total voting population of the area to proceed.

Judge Guillermo Agloro of the RTC Branch 83 issued another decision on Tuesday clarifying that the TRO covered not only the PES but all the election officers of Bulacan.

“The actions of the election officers of different cities and municipalities of Bulacan which are intended in furtherance of the recall proceedings of herein plaintiff [Alvarado], under the instruction or direction of the Provincial Election Supervisor of Bulacan are covered by the temporary restraining order issued by this court,” he said in a resolution.

But election officers assert their actions are legal.

Lawyer Julio Nicanor Guinto, election officer of Malolos City, explained that the decision to proceed with the verification process came from the Office of the Deputy Executive Director for Operations (ODEDO), and not from the provincial election office.

Guinto said the decision, issued on March 16 but was only received by election officers on Tuesday, March 17, bypassed the provincial election office, thus making it compliant with the TRO.

“This is not illegal. The decision to proceed is not covered by the TRO,” Guinto told The Manila Times.

Asked about the possibility of facing charges of contempt of court over the TRO, Guinto said he stands with the side of the Comelec.

According to the recall procedures, once the required number of verified names and signatures have been reviewed and evaluated, the Comelec will set the date of the election on recall not later than 45 days following the evaluation.

The Bulacan Comelec office has until April 1 to finish the verification and issue a certification. The subject of the recall, on the other hand, has three days from the receipt of certification to appeal before the Comelec en banc.

But it is racing against time as law prohibits the Comelec from conducting recall election a year before an election. The next election is scheduled on May 6, 2016.

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