THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has canceled the special elections for representatives of the First and Second Districts of Southern Leyte and the First and Third Districts of South Cotabato scheduled on Oct. 26, 2019.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the electoral exercise in the reapportioned districts in the provinces of South Cotabato and Southern Leyte would no longer push through because the Supreme Court has directed the poll body to proclaim Shirlyn Bañas-Nograles as representative for the First Legislative District of South Cotabato, including General Santos City.
The Commission en banc issued Comelec Resolution (CR) 10612, suspending the polls for the First and Third (lone) Legislative Districts of South Cotabato.
The high court also declared null and void CR 10524 and ordered the convening of a Special Provincial Board of Canvassers to proclaim the winning candidate.
CR 10524, which was promulgated on April 11, 2019, provides the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act (RA) 11243. The law directed the reapportioning of the First Legislative District of South Cotabato, thereby creating the lone legislative district of General Santos City.
The Commission resolved, under CR 10612, to suspend the elections for the First and Second Legislative Districts of Southern Leyte in view of the possibility that the resolution of the high tribunal in the Bañas-Nograles case would be applied in the case of the province since both cases are similarly situated.
If the Supreme Court will not issue a decision, the elections in Southern Leyte shall push through on Nov. 30, 2019 to avoid a prolonged vacuum in the office of representatives for the first and second districts.
Jimenez explained that elections were not held in the said areas in May because of operational and logistical constraints following the enactment of laws that created new districts in the two provinces.
RA 11198 reapportioned Southern Leyte into two legislative districts, which became effective on February 19, 2019.
RA 11243, on the other hand, reapportioned the First Legislative District of South Cotabato, thereby creating the lone legislative district of General Santos City, which became effective April 4, 2019.