Local News: Comelec’s Works on Special Poll Continue Despite Petition
The activities of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on the June 2 special poll in the 5th District of Negros Occidental are going on as scheduled, despite the petition filed by an election lawyer for it to be stopped.
Negros Occidental provincial election supervisor Jesse Suarez said, "There is no order from Manila that we stop our activities pertaining to the special election so we go on with our activities in order to be ready for the June 2 special poll."
The special poll will seek a replacement of the late congressman Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo who died on January 26 in London after a long battle with cirrhosis of the liver.
Romulo Macalintal, through his lawyer Antonio Carlos Bautista, filed on Thursday before the Supreme Court a petition to stop the June 2 special poll in the 5th District saying "it is illegal because it will be held beyond the period as provided for by law."
In a 22-page petition, Macalintal said Section 4 of Republic Act 7166, or the Synchronized National and Local elections Law, provides that special elections to fill a vacancy in the House of Representatives "shall be called and held not earlier than 60 days nor longer than 90 days after the occurrence of the vacancy."
"Since Arroyo died on Jan. 26, the earliest date such special election could be held was last March 26 – the 60th day after the occurrence of the vacancy…The latest date it could be held would be on April 25 – the 90th day after the occurrence of such vacancy, pursuant to the provision of RA 7166," Macalintal said.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez, for his part, said the Comelec does not share Macalintal’s opinion, and it believes that the Supreme Court will not grant his petition.
"It’s their prerogative," Suarez said in saying that anyone can file a petition, but that it won’t stop the Comelec from doing its job.
Pending the resolution of his petition, Macalintal has also asked the High Court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent Comelec from disbursing funds for the special poll.
But Suarez said the Comelec has already spent almost half of the P21.6-million budget allocated for the holding of the special election.
The voters’ lists for posting, watchers’ identification cards, Comelec passes and forms for the Board of Election Inspectors in the 5th District have already arrived, he said.
Only the official ballots are lacking as these usually arrive two to three days before the holding of the election, he said, and that he expects the printing of the poll materials to be completed by next week.
The Comelec has set the election period of the special poll from April 18 to June 17, with the filing of certificates of candidacy on May 14 to 16, and the campaign period from May 17 to 31.
Jimenez said that during this period, a gun ban will be implemented in the 5th District which covers Himamaylan City, La Castellana, Moises Padilla, Isabela, and Hinigaran, with a voting population of more than 200,000.
So far only Binalbagan Mayor Alejandro Mirasol and his nephew, Board Member Emilio Yulo III, are among the contenders for the post.*(DBDangcalan)