Cebu City councilors with nullified proclamation can stay in office for now–Comelec-7

By: Dyrecka Letigio September 11,2021 - 05:51 PM
Cebu City Councilors are in a huddle during a recess in one of their special sessions in this file photo.

Members of the Cebu City Council huddle during a recess in one of their special sessions in this file photo. | CDN Digital

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The four Cebu City councilors, whose proclamation into office have been nullified by the Commission on Election en banc to pave way for the recounting of votes for the late Marie Velle “Amay” Abella, will not have to leave their offices yet.

Lawyer Ferdinand Guijilde, regional attorney of the Commission on Election in Central Visayas (Comelec-7), said that the nullification of the proclamation was only done to determine the ranking of incumbent councilors since the recount could affect it.

“If there is no writ of execution ordering them to vacate their office, it is merely intended to determine the ranking of incumbent councilors whose proclamation may be affected by the result of the recount,” he said in a text message to CDN Digital.

This means that Cebu City Councilors Eugenio Gabuya Jr., Renato Osmena Jr., Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba, and Philip Zafra can still function as Cebu City councilors until a writ of execution will be ordered for their removal.

In essence, only Councilor Philip Zafra, is in danger of losing his position as Abella would be taking only one spot of the line-up.

With this, Zafra recently said that his legal team had already been preparing for action should the result of the recounting be released by Comelec.

He recently turned independent, but he was elected under the banner of Barug-PDP Laban, the city’s ruling party.

READ: Zafra, Hontiveros to run as ‘independent’ candidates in 2022 polls?

As for Abella’s ally, Councilor Eugenio Gabuya Jr., he said he was not concerned at all about his own proclamation being nullified as he was in a far safer place compared to his colleagues.

Currently at 5th spot, should Abella’s votes upstand his, Gabuya will still be on the 6th spot. He does not see a problem with this as this also means that Abella will get the justice she deserved in the last elections.

The recounting was ordered by the Comelec en banc after they ruled with finality that candidate, Sherwin Abella, is a nuisance candidate and all votes to him would go to Amay Abella.

READ: Comelec disqualifies Sherwin Abella as Cebu City Council bet, but not all his votes may go to Amay

Abella should expect 10,000 to 15,000 votes from the ballots that voted for the nuisance candidate unless the ballot voted for both of them. The recounting will be done in Manila on September 16, 2021.

“I don’t mind nga muubos ang ranking because finally ma-appreciate iyang (Abella) votes,” said Gabuya.

(I don’t mind if I will go down in rank because finally her votes would be appreciated.

READ: Gone too soon: Friends, supporters, allies say goodbye to Lawyer Amay Abella online

If Abella indeed gets the spot, this would also change the face of the City Council as Gabuya said their party, the Liberal Party, would choose her replacement since she untimely passed in 2020 due to an illness.

The Liberal Party is the national party of Abella and Gabuya, but they are locally affiliated with Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK).

This would mean that the minority floor will finally get an edge in the council, which would be crucial in the voting process when the council would be divided.

If Abella gets the spot and the party nominates another individual to take her place, this would mean that the minority floor would be 9 while the majority floor, without Zafra, would also be 9.

Councilor Raymond Garcia, majority floor leader, said the minority should not bank on this as the process of actually getting Abella proclaimed and Zafra removed might take longer.

Abella’s struggle to get the votes has already taken two years without a final resolution.

Garcia said that appeals might be filed by various parties and this could once again affect the case and lengthen the process.

“Maabtan na lang nag sunod nga election,” he said.

(That will be overtaken by the next election.)

For now, Garcia said the City Council would continue to function and the affected councilors would remain to function in the council as well.

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TAGS: and Philip Zafra c, Cebu City councilors, Cebu City Councilors Eugenio Gabuya Jr., Comelec-7, Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba, Renato Osmeña Jr., the late Marie Velle "Amay" Abella

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