Comelec exec: Gwen can file COC if she will run as gov in 2019 polls
DESPITE the Ombudsman’s order to dismiss from public service House Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia, she can still file for a certificate of candidacy (COC) in the event that she will pursue her plan to run against Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III in the May 2019 elections.
Lawyer Lionel Marco Castillano, Commission on Elections (Comelec)-Cebu province supervisor, said in a phone interview that their office is mandated to accept Garcia’s COC.
“Yes, she can. Because the Comelec, it’s our ministerial duty to accept her COC if she will indeed run for governor,” said Castillano.
However, there’s a catch.
The Comelec – Cebu province officer said that since there is an order by the government’s watch-dog body to bar Garcia from entering into public office, it will suffice as grounds for anyone to file a disqualification case against the Deputy Speaker.
Castillano said that the election officer does not have the authority to deny the acceptance of the COC of the candidate unless the candidate cannot meet the qualifications upheld by the Constitution.
“Election officers do not have that power. If we have that power, we’re not considered an independent body anymore. As long as the candidate is a Filipino citizen, does not lack the number of years of residency, and can comply formal requirements such as providing this number of copies of COC, we will definitely accept,” Castillano explained.
“As to whether or not she will be disqualified, it will be decided by the Comelec en banc. Any registered voter can file a disqualification case against anyone running for public office. A decision from the Ombudsman can be grounds to file one,” he added.
Castillano said that cases on disqualification usually take an average of one year, citing the instance when former Bantayan Mayor Arthur Despi was ordered to relinquish his seat to his rival, the town’s incumbent John Christopher Escario in May 2017.
Despi, albeit winning the mayoral post of Bantayan town in Bantayan Island last May 2016 elections, was found to have been disowned by party-list Abag–Promdi (Progressive Movement for the Devolution of Initiative) as their mayoralty bet for Bantayan town therefore, making his COC null and void.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales issued on Monday a dismissal order against Garcia after the Ombudsman found her guilty of grave misconduct for the unauthorized P24.47 million project to backfill the submerged portions of the Balili property in Barangay Tinaan, Naga City when Garcia was still governor in 2012.
When sought for comment, Davide in a text message on Thursday, said that Garcia should ought to “just avail of the legal remedies provided to her by the law”.
“The Ombudsman has spoken … Let justice take its course,” said Davide.
Garcia, on an interview with DYHP on Tuesday morning, announced that the dismissal order meted against her only propelled her to “seriously consider” to run against Davide in the upcoming May 2019 elections.
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