Comelec disqualifies Laguna governor for overspending

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LAGUNA: The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday unanimously voted to disqualify Laguna Governor Emilio Ramon “ER” Ejercito for overspending during the 2013 elections.

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Voting 7-0, the Comelec en banc’s decision affirmed the First Division’s September 26 ruling that Ejercito spent more than P4.5 million for his campaign.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Bril–lantes said candidates are only allowed to spend P3 per registered voter. Laguna has a total of 1, 525, 522 voters.

Comelec said Ejercito spent P23,563,365 for his entire campaign.

“This morning, we arrived at a decision affirming the decision of the First Division to unseat Ejercito as governor of Laguna having overspent above and beyond what is allowed by law,” Brillantes said in a press conference on Wednesday, adding that the unanimous decision over the case aims to cast no doubt since there is no dissenting opinion.

In a resolution of the commission’s en banc, they granted the decision of the poll body’s first division on the disqualification filed against Ejercito; disqualify him from holding office; orders Ejercito to cease and desist from performing the functions of the office; and declare a permanent vacancy in the office of the provincial governor of Laguna.

Comelec also directed Vice Governor Ramil Hernandez to assume the office of the provincial of governor by virtue of succession as provided in Section 44 of the Local Government Code and direct the Campaign finance unit to coordinate with the Law Department of this Commission for the conduct of a preliminary investigation into the alleged violations of campaign finance laws, rules and regulations committed by respondent Ejercito.

Brillantes said Ejercito has five days—upon the receipt of the decision, including weekend— to file for a temporary restraining order (TRO) before the Supreme Court (SC).

“We are giving him five days within which to run to the SC and secure a TRO. Otherwise, we shall be constrained to implement the decision after the lapse of five days,” Brillantes said.

He said Comelec will no longer accept any motions for reconsiderations (MRs), noting that they had already decided on the matter.

In a statement, Ejercito said “I am prepared to take legal action against the disqualification order of the Comelec once we receive the documents. I will bring this matter to the Supreme Court and I am confident that the SC will uphold the rule of law and the voice of 550 thousand voters of the Province of Laguna who voted for me”.

“I am also confident that the SC will uphold the mandate of the people of Laguna that they have so overwhelmingly entrusted to me during the last 2010 and 2013 gubernatorial elections,” he added.

Ejercito expressed his appreciation to all his supporters and all the Laguneños who continue to believe in his governance.

“Lalaban po tayo legally [We will fight legally]. Jesus Christ and Our Lady of Guadalupe will protect us Laguneños from harm,” he said.

Edgar San Luis of the Liberal Party filed the petition to disqualify Ejercito, stating that Ejercito was allowed to spend only P4.5 million or P3 for each of the 1,525,522 voters in Laguna.

The Comelec noted that Ejercito paid P6 million for just one advertising contract, which exceeded the poll spending cap.

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