Poll body junks DQ petition vs Pichay

February 16, 2022 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 293 views

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has junked a petition to disqualify Surigao del Sur (Lakas) Rep. and Deputy Speaker Prospero A. Pichay, Jr., filed by his opponent in the upcoming elections, former DPWH undersecretary and now Construction Workers’ Solidarity party-list Rep. Romeo S. Momo.

In a resolution rendered yesterday, Feb. 15 by the Comelec’s former first division, the poll body dismissed the petition to cancel the Certificate of Candidacy (COC) of Pichay filed by Momo last November. The resolution was signed by Comelec Commissioners Marlon S. Casquejo and Aimee P. Ferolino.

In their resolution, the Comelec dismissed Momo’s petition which had erroneously asserted Pichay was disqualified from re-election on the basis of his conviction in an Ombudsman case related to his term as Local Water Utilities Administration Chair during the Arroyo presidency.

Related cases had been previously cited by Pichay’s political opponents to keep him from running for public office, but these had either been dismissed or in the case of the Ombudsman decision, pending appeal.

In his defense, Pichay said similar petitions were filed by Momo against him in previous elections and were repeatedly denied by the Comelec and the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET).

“Pending the resolution of his appeal with the Supreme Court, we cannot hold that the perpetual disqualification is effective against Pichay,” a portion of the 11-page resolution read.

“Consequently, there was no false material representation when he declared that he was eligible to run for office,” the Comelec declared.

“In fine, this commission is duty-bound to strictly construe Rule III Section 7 of the Ombudsman rules because of the extraordinary nature of executions pending appeal,” they explained, invoking the policy regarding the finality of judgments like conviction.

“Said provision should not be read to include the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification as this would run contrary to a construction of the law, the purpose behind it, and standing jurisprudence,” the Comelec officials maintained.