THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday paved the way for recall elections in Puerto Princesa City after it dismissed an opposing petition filed by incumbent City Mayor Lucilo Bayron.
In a 14-page resolution, the commission also ruled that the total number of valid signatures needed to proceed with the recall elections has reached the minimum requirement.
“The election officer of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, is hereby directed, within 24 hours from the receipt hereof, to issue a certification that the total number of signatures and thumbmarks found as valid by the commission en banc satisfies the required minimum number of petitioners for purposes of conducting recall elections and submit the same to the Deputy Executive Director for Operations,” the resolution said.
The recall petition had been able to gather a total of 32,418 signatures, but this figure was later on reduced to 22,326 after the signatures and thumbmarks of 10,092 petitioners were invalidated.
In the same ruling, the Comelec expressed alarm over the huge number of invalidated petitioners. It said the organizer of the recall initiative did not ensure that only duly registered voters were able to sign the petition.
“The organizers of the recall initiative are expected to be well aware of the requirements on who should sign the recall petition and are therefore, likewise, expected to ensure that only said signatures must be included in the petition.’”
It added: “The commission shall look into the matter to find out if there is deliberate attempt to present invalid signatures in support of the petition.”
On March 17,2014, the former city information officer, Al Roben Goh, initiated a recall petition against Bayron for loss of trust and confidence.
On April 1, 2014, the commission en banc promulgated Resolution 9864 affirming the findings of the Office of the Deputy Executive Director for Operations on the sufficiency of petition.
In the same resolution, however, the poll body en banc suspended all proceedings because of budgetary constraints.
On April 28, 2014, Bayron filed a motion for reconsideration alleging that the petition fails to conform with the required form and substance.
On May 27, 2014, the commission promulgated Resolution 9882, suspending any proceeding relative to recall as the process does not have an appropriation in the 2014 national budget nor provide the Comelec with legal authority to commit public funds for the purpose.
In response, Bayron filed a petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court, which granted his petition.
The High Court said “there is no need for supplemental legislation to authorize the Comelec to conduct recall elections for 2014 since the 2014 General Appropriations Act provides the line item appropriation to allow the Comelec to perform its constitutional mandate of conducting recall elections.”
Consequently, the SC directed the Comelec “to immediately carry out the recall elections of Mayor Lucilo R. Bayron.”