Comelec declares Abonal new CSur Board Member

PILI, Camarines Sur—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to proclaim Atty. Gabriel Ariel Abonal as a duly-elected member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of this province on Friday (February 20)  following the poll body’s issuance of a writ of execution implementing its en banc resolution which cancelled the certificate of candidacy (COC) of Romulo Hernandez.

It will be recalled that Hernandez’s COC for Board Member was struck down by the constitutional body for being violative of the three-term limit rule.

Writ of execution

In its writ of execution dated 12 February 2015, the Comelec en banc has directed the Special Provincial Board of Canvassers of the Second (2nd) District of Camarines Sur to convene on 20 February, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. at the Comelec Session Hall in  Manila.

Additionally, the Order commands the Special Board of Canvassers to proclaim Darius S. Nopra and Gabriel Ariel F. Abonal as the duly elected First and Second Member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the 2nd District of Camarines Sur, respectively.

Nopra garnered the second highest number of votes (54,024); while Abonal obtained the third highest number of votes (43,806) among the candidates for board member in the 2013 elections.

Signed by Acting Chairman Christian Robert  Lim for the Commission, the writ was issued at the instance of Abonal, who filed an Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for theIssuance of a Writ of Execution on February 10.

Comelec en banc reverses the second division’s decision 

The writ of execution stems from a Comelec Resolution docketed as SPA No. 13-149 and promulgated on January 30, 2015.

Therein, the the poll body reversed earlier ruling of the Comelec Second Division dated July 8, 2013, which ruled in favor of Hernandez.

In its en banc decision, Comelec upheld the Petitioner’s contention  that “while the provincial board members are elected by legislative districts, the members serve the entire province of Camarines Sur…[M]embership of the local government office irrespective of the district the board members had been elected from.”

It reasoned: “To allow Respondent to run for the same position would obviously defeat the very intent of the framers when they included the three-term limit rule,” said the decision.

 Comelec also underscored that “a closer look at the composition of the newly formed 2nd District shows that the territorial jurisdiction and inhabitants of the former 1st district, which brought Respondent to office in 2001, 2004, and 2007, cannot be considered as substantially different from the new 2nd district, where Respondent sought to be elected.”

“To allow Respondent to run in the new 2nd District for the fifth time would encourage gerrymandering as a tool to circumvent the three-term limit rule.”

“While members of the provincial board are elected by district, membership in the provincial board should be considered as one local government post, within the purview of the three-term limit rule. The matter of apportioning the members of the provincial board among the districts is exclusively for the purpose of election to ensure that a legislative district is sufficiently represented so that the people can be effectively heard. It was never intended to create independent local government posts,” the decision stated.

Comelec Chairman Sixto S. Brilliantes, Jr., and Commissioners Lucenito N. Tagle, Elias R. Yusoph, and Al A. Pareno all voted in favour of the cancellation of Hernandez’ COC.

Meanwhile, Christian Robert S. Lim and Arthur D. Lim both dissented.

 Luie Tito F. Guia, who was on official business, did not cast his vote.

Hernandez concedes

The soon-to-be- former board member was noticeably absent during the Tuesday’s regular session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

In an exclusive interview with BICOLSTANDARD.COM, Hernandez said that he abide by the decision of the Comelec.—BICOLSTANDARD.COM

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