THE Supreme Court (SC) en banc gave the Commission on Elections (Comelec) the green light hold the plebiscite for the creation of the new province of Davao Occidental, simultaneous with Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on October 28.
In the en banc deliberations, the Justices voted to deny the petition filed by Gov. Douglas Cagas of Davao del Sur who opposes the Comelec-set plebiscite.
In the decision with Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio as ponente, the court stated that it is within the power of the election court to set the plebiscite whether or not the local populace will allow the division of Davao del Sur.
The Court ruled that there is no merit in the petition of Cagas, hence, the polls proceeds on Monday.
The ruling of the court shall be immediately executory.
Comelec has approved the holding of the plebiscite on July 31.
Under Republic Act (RA) 10360, the election court has the power to supervise the conduct of a plebiscite for the approval of the creation of Davao Occidental by the majority of the votes cast by voters in the affected areas, within 60 days after the law becomes effective.
Comelec stated that holding the plebiscite together with the village and youth polls will save Comelec some P29 million—the poll body will only spend more than P11 million.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said that at least P40 million is needed to hold a separate plebiscite.
On July 23, Congress enacted RA 10360 or an “Act Creating the Province of Davao Occidental.”
A total of 523,862 registered voters (as of the May 13, midterm polls) of Davao del Sur, excluding Davao City, will participate in the plebiscite that will determine whether the new province will be created or not.
The proposed province will be composed of the municipalities of Sta. Maria, Malita, Don Marcelino, Jose Abad Santos and Sarangan. The five municipalities were carved out from the eight municipalities in the second legislative district of Davao del Sur.