• Court orders Batangas town chief to step down

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    THE high court sitting en banc ruled to junk the petition for certiorari under Rule 65 filed by Renato Federico, which seeks to stop the execution of the Commission on election (Comelec) ruling ousting him as Mayor of Santo Tomas, Batangas.

    In a one-page resolution of the Supreme Court, dated April 16, 2013, but was just released to the media recently, it denied the very urgent motion filed by Federico, which prays to stay Comelec Order.

    The Court Resolved to Deny the Very Urgent Motion to Stay Comelec Order dated
    February 22, 2013 filed by the petitioner.

    The resolution was signed and promulgated by SC en banc Clerk of Court, Atty. Enriqueta Vidal.

    The Court, in February sustained a Comelec resolution annulling Federico’s proclamation as mayor of the said municipality because of an invalid substitution in the May 10, 2010 elections.

    In the record of the case, it was stated that the substitution by Federico occurred when former mayoral candidate, Edna Sanchez withdrew from the mayoral race to substitute her husband, gubernatorial candidate Armando Sanchez, who then died on April 27, 2010.

    Federico then filed with the Office of the Election Officer of Santo Tomas his certificate of candidacy (COC) and certificate of nomination and acceptance as substitute candidate for mayor, on May 5, 2010, in view of the withdrawal of Edna Sanchez.

    But the official ballots had already been printed, the name “Sanchez, Edna P.” was retained in the list of candidates and garnered the highest number of votes—28,389 against Osmundo Maligaya’s 22,577.

    The Municipal Board of Canvasser proclaimed Federico as winner in the mayoralty race after considering Sanchez’s votes in favor of Federico. This prompted Maligaya to file a petition to annul the proclamation of Federico, which the Comelec En Banc granted, thereby proclaiming Maligaya as winner.

    In a 19-page decision, signed by Justice Jose Catral Mendoza, the Court unanimously held that Federico’s substitution of Edna Sanchez was invalid, “having been filed after the December 14, 2009 deadline provided for under Section 13 of Comelec Resolution No. 8678.”

    In its ruling, it did not agree with Federico’s contention that the Comelec Resolution cannot prevail over the provisions of Section 77 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 881, The Omnibus Election Code, which provides that a “substitute candidate nominated by the political party concerned may file his certificate of candidacy for the office affected in accordance with the preceding sections not later than mid-day of the day of the election.”

    “Comelec is empowered by law to prescribe such rules as to make efficacious and successful the conduct of the first national automated election,” and “as automated elections had been mandated by law, there was a need for the early printing of the ballots.

    So that all candidates would be accommodated in the ballots, the early filing of the COC’s was necessary. If there would be late filing and approval of COCs, the names of aspiring candidates would not be included in the ballot, the only document to be read by the precinct count optical scan machines,” it avers.

    “Without question, the votes garnered by Edna could not be credited to Federico as he was never a legitimate candidate. As there was an invalid substitution, there could not be a valid proclamation,” it added.

    With this, the high court also lifted the Temporary Restraining Order it issued on January 17, 2012, which enjoined the Comelec from proclaiming Maligaya as mayor of Santo Tomas, Batangas.

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