Special election in Las Piñas overdue
The lone congressional district of Las Piñas City has been vacant after its elected representative, Mark Villar, resigned to accept the position of secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways. Since then, the Commission on Elections has not lifted a finger to call and hold a special election to fill the vacancy.
Section 4, paragraph 2 of Republic Act No. 7166 (Synchronized Election Law), enacted on Nov. 26, 1991, mandates that in case of vacancy in the House of Representatives, the Comelec shall “call and hold a special election to fill the vacancy not earlier than sixty (60) days nor longer than ninety (90) days after the occurrence of the vacancy.” Section 1 of RA 6645 (1987 Law on Filling Vacancy in Congress) provides that the special election shall be conducted provided the remaining term of office is “at least one (1) year before the next regular election for Members of Congress.”
Villar resigned on Aug. 1, 2016. Therefore, under the law, the special election for his replacement should have been called and held between Sept. 30 (the 60th day after Villar’s resignation) and not later than Oct. 30 (the 90th day after Villar’s said resignation).
The Comelec should take judicial notice of Villar’s resignation and the existence of the vacancy and should take it upon itself to secure the certification of vacancy from the House of Representatives to fulfill its mandatory duty of conducting the special election not earlier than 60 days nor longer than 90 days after the occurrence of the vacancy. Actually, the Comelec should have done its part as early as Sept. 30 to meet the deadline for holding the special election for the replacement of Villar, not later than Oct. 30.
ROMULO B. MACALINTAL, election lawyer, Las Piñas City
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