THE Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has been asked to disqualify the candidacy of a mayoralty bet in the town of Peñaranda, Nueva Ecija, for being not allowed to participate in any election after previously being dismissed from government service.
In a petition received by the COMELEC main office in Manila last March 1, 2022, a copy of which was secured by this writer, Peñaranda Mayor Joselito A. Ramos, has sought the disqualification of his opponent, former Senior State Prosecutor Ferdinand Abesamis.
Abesamis, the petition stated, was ordered removed from government service by then Pres. Joseph Estrada, on the recommendation of then Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora and Department of Justice Secretary Serafin Cuevas by virtue of Administrative Order No. 14, dated August 27, 1998.
Ramos noted that under Section 40 of RA 7160 (Local Government Code), among the candidates barred from seeking public office are government officials who have been administratively discharged from their office.
Batas Pambansa (BP) 881, or the Omnibus Election Code, has affirmed the authority of RA 7160 to classify those allowed and not allowed to run for public office under Section 65, Ramos added.
The case involving Abesamis stemmed from several complaints filed against him at the DOJ in 1997 involving sums of money and which then Sec. Teofisto Guingona ordered investigated.
When the DOJ investigation concluded on February 6, 1998, the panel recommended for his dismissal from the service.
The dismissal order signed by Estrada also stated partly that: “Respondent lamentably had not been true to the principle that a public office is a public trust.”
Abesamis had tried to overturn his dismissal when Leandro Mendoza, executive secretary to Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, issued a “resolution” dated March 11, 2010 approving a penalty of admonition against him instead of dismissal from the service as recommended by the investigating panel.
The petition, however, noted that a mere resolution cannot supersede an administrative order signed by the President.
“The power to reverse Administrative Order 14is not one of those powers included or attached to (the) Office of the Executive Secretary which was granted by law or delegated to him by the President,” the petition stated.
Ramos also averred that Abesamis “omitted” the above material fact of his dismissal when he filled up his certificate of candidacy as mayor of Peñaranda.