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Comelec strikes down BM Hernandez’s COC

PILI, CSur—The Commission on Elections (COMELEC), in an en banc decision, struck down the certificate of candidacy (COC) of Board Member Romulo Hernandez, resolving that the filing of Hernandez’ COC for Board Member for the 2013 polls indubitably violated the three-term limit rule.

Comelec second division decision reversed

In its Resolution docketed SPA No.  13-149 and promulgated 30 January 2015, the poll body reversed the Second Division’s Resolution dated 8 July 2013 which ruled in favor of Hernandez.
The Comelec agreed with the Petitioners 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.”
“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.”
Comelec  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.
It added: “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 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.
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.

What went before

Hernandez was elected provincial board member of the first district in 2001, 2004 and 2007. On his 3rd term as provincial board member.
On 12 October 2009, on respondent’s third term as provincial board member of the 1st district, RA 9176 was enacted reappoartioning the legislative districts in Camarines Sur.
Since the Municipality of Libmanan where the Respondent resides, was transferred from the 1st district to the newly created  2nd district, the respondent filed his COC for provincial board member o fthe new 2nd District for the 2010 elections.
This was subject to a disqualification case entitled “Bandillo et al, vs. Hernandez” which was docketed as SPA No. 101-078 (DC). This was anchored on on Respondent’s alleged violation of the three-term limit rule since respondent had already served thrice as board member, albeit in the 1st district.
The Second Division of Comelec then ruled in favour of Respondent, stating that the three-term limit rule was not violated since the addition of the three-term limit was not violated since the addition of the two municipalities to the five of the 10 municipaliteis which used to comprise the former 1st district created a new district, with an altered territory and constituency.
This was affirmed by the Comelec en banc stating that the Respondent’s case falls outside the three-term limit rule.
On 3 Ocbober 2012, Respondent filed his COC for provincial board member for the 2nd district where Petitioners were likewise candidates for the same post.
On 23 October 2013, Petitioners filed the instant Petition, seeking the cancellation or denial of the Respondent’s COC for violation of the three-term limit rule.

Petitioner welcomes decision

Atty. Gabriel Ariel F. Abonal and Roy Anthony Nidea, who both ran for the same office, were the petitioners in this Petition to Give Due Course or Cancellation of the COC of Hernandez.
In an interview with BICOL STANDARD,  Abonal said that he welcomes this decision of the Comelec  en banc.
However, he opted not to disclose his next legal action amid this development.
Hernandez, for his part, told BICOL STANDARD that he has left to his counsel what legal strategies to undertake with regard to this en banc decision.
Abonal is expected to benefit from this Comelec decision.
Because of the Comelec pronouncement, Hernandez is deemed to have never been a candidate. Consequently the person who obtained the next highest number of votes will be considered the winning candidate.—BICOLSTANDARD.COM

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