The Commission on Elections (Comelec) First Division dismissed a petition to declare former Laguna governor E.R. Ejercito a nuisance candidate in the May 2016 elections in the absence of a final decision on the previous case that caused his removal from office.
In a resolution promulgated on February 10, 2016 but received by Ejercito’s lawyers only on Tuesday, the Comelec ruled that his disqualification in 2013 elections “removed him from office only for the term covering the period of 2013 – 2016 and does not prevent him from filing a COC for the same office, absent a final and executor judgment convicting him of violating Section 100 in accordance with Section 262 of the Omnibus Election Code.”
“Disqualification from participating in future elections can only be imposed upon conviction of any offense that carries the accessory penalty of disqualification to hold public office”, the Comelec added.
The poll body relied on the doctrine enunciated by the Supreme Court in the 2008 case of Blanco vs Comelec that the disqualification of Ejercito in 2013 involved only the “electoral aspect of his disqualification case” and not its criminal aspect.
The case stemmed from a petition filed by Abner Afuang, which sought Ejercito’s disqualification.
Ejercito, through his lawyers, Romulo Macalintal and Antonio Bautista, argued that the petition should be dismissed because his disqualification in 2013 applied only for his candidacy in the May 2013 elections and does not extend to the May 2016 elections or any subsequent elections” and that Afuang had no legal personality to file the case since Afuang is not a candidate for Governor in the 2016 elections.
In sustaining the arguments, the Comelec ruled that Afuang’s petition is “procedurally infirmed and should be summarily dismissed since Afuang is not authorized by law to file the petition for not being a candidate in the 2016 elections, pursuant to Section 2, Rule 6 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure.
The resolution was signed by Comelec First Division Presiding Commissioner Christian Robert Lim with the note “Even after determining the true nature of the case, this case is dismissed on the merits,” and concurred in by Commissioners Luie Tito Guia and Ma. Rowena Amelia Guanzon.