Issue of April 14, 2019
Mt. Province

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SC grants relief plea of Baguio mayoral bet
by Jane B. Cadalig

The Supreme Court halted the Commission on Elections from implementing its earlier resolution that disregarded the certificate of candidacy of Baguio councilor and now mayoral bet Edgar Avila.

In a resolution dated April 11, the SC granted Avila’s petition for the High Court to nullify Comelec Resolution 19-0286, which ruled that all the COCs received by field offices nationwide that used the old format are deemed not filed and the votes for the concerned candidates will be considered invalid.

The status quo ante order was issued a day after Avila filed the petition for certiorari with prayer for the issuance of status quo ante order. The status quo ante order means that the Comelec should maintain the valid status of Avila’s COC before it issued Resolution 19-0286.

The High Court stated the status quo ante order it issued should stand until further orders are issued. It also ordered the Comelec to comment on Avila’s petition.

The SC also ordered the Comelec, its agents, representatives, or persons acting in its place or stead, to maintain the status quo prevailing before the issuance of Comelec en banc Resolution 19-0286 dated March 6.

In his petition, Avila said the Comelec en banc committed grave abuse of discretion when it issued the resolution without providing the clear cut guidance sought by its Law department on how it will treat the 18 COCs that were suggested to be compliant even if they used the old form because the candidates have listed the cases filed against them.

Avila’s COC was among the 18 documents that have listed the cases filed against the candidate, which answered the question in the new COC if the candidate was found liable of an offense that carries with it perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

There were 25 COCs that were subject of the Comelec resolution, but the Law department asked the en banc to decide how to treat the 18 COCs that used the old form but the candidates provided a table of cases filed against them. Seven did not provide a table of cases.

The Comelec en banc ruled that all the 25 COCs will be deemed not filed.

Avila said the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion when it issued the resolution despite the rule laid down by the SC in several cases that non-compliance with a formal requirement is not a ground for disqualification.

He added the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion when it issued the resolution without sending him a notice, which violates his right to due process.

“Again, we want the Baguio voters to know that we are not disqualified contrary to what is being peddled by some parties. Their votes for me will not go to waste,” Avila said.

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