High Court: Ruling on Palawan recall ‘final’

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The recall elections in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan will push through after the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday ruled with finality on dismissing an appeal for reconsideration by Mayor Lucilo Bayron.

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The high court, in its en banc session on Tuesday, rejected Bayron’s motion for reconsideration on its November 25, 2014 ruling that pushes for the recall elections.

In its decision, the high court maintained the Commission on Elections (Comelec) had jurisdiction over the case after it has undertaken the proceedings in preparation for the conduct of the recall polls.

While favouring the decision pushing for the recall elections, the SC on the other hand warned Comelec that for the recall polls to be valid, it has to be conducted on or before May 8, 2015 pursuant to the time limit for recall elections under Republic Act (RA) No. 7160 (Local Government Code of the Philippines).

“No recall shall take place within one year from the date of the official’s assumption to office or one year immediately preceding a local election,” it said.

The succeeding regular local election, which happens to also be a national election, is on May 9, 2016.

The case stemmed from the recall petition filed by Alroben Goh, a resident in Puerto Princesa, against Bayron.

Bayron had argued that Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion when it ruled that the recall petition was not prematurely filed when it was in fact it was submitted more than nine months after he assumed his office.

He argued that the mere filing of the recall petition is a violation of paragraph (b), Section 74 of the Local Government Code which prohibits the filing of petition seeking the recall of an elective local official within one year from the date of the official’s assumption.

Bayron also hit the Comelec for its alleged failure to conduct “independent assessment and evaluation of the sufficiency of the recall petition by accepting the findings of Puerto Princesa’s Election Officer (and its Office of the Deputy Executive Director for Operations hook, line, and sinker…”

He had also alleged that the recall petition is defective because the attached signature sheets did not contain the required brief narration of facts.

Bayron, in his petition, showed a picture image of the alleged signature sheet bearing the words “for loss of trust and confidence” but there is no narration of the reasons which should have served as the basis for the filing of the petition.

He also alleged that the Comelec erred when it failed to rule that the required percentage of signatories in the recall petition should have been based on the “number of registered voters and not on the number of voting population.”

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