Poll case takes disgusting twist
Neal Cruz’s story about a noncandidate winning as mayor of Calbiga in Samar (Opinion, Inquirer, 5/29/13) has taken a more disgusting twist. Despite a May 3, 2013 Commission on Elections en banc decision canceling his candidacy and his highly questionable proclamation by the municipal board of canvassers (MBOC), American passport holder Nick Abaigar, Liberal Party candidate, has taken over the mayor’s office, except that he can’t complete any financial transaction as he can’t show the banks a certificate from the Department of Interior and Local Government confirming him as the legitimate mayor. Interior Secretary Mar Roxas is apparently holding back, given the June 18 Comelec writ of execution directing him, among other officials, to immediately implement it. Record shows Abaigar refused to receive the copy of the writ served him by the local Comelec.
Having occupied the office, Abaigar has been heard bragging that he arrived last June 26 using a renewed US passport. Meanwhile, this foreigner, who has spent most of his 62 years in California as a permanent resident, has thrown Calbiga, traditionally a politically serene town, into a state of uncertainty, confusion and unnecessary tension. My interest in this case has been favored by an anonymous informant with a photo of Abaigar’s renewed passport, numbered 505681814. Valid from June 21, 2013 to June 20, 2023, it proclaims his nationality in bold: “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” Here at our municipal hall and at the Land Transportation Office in Catbalogan City, where he applied for a driver’s license, he could not produce photocopies of any Philippine-issued ID, not even a Philippine passport.
Why my beloved Calbiga has come to this pass is difficult to understand. Abaigar’s candidacy was cancelled exactly 10 days before the May 13 elections. Still he was proclaimed winner by 57 votes, the MBOC claiming it hadn’t yet received an official copy of the Comelec resolution and refusing to take into account the duplicate copy, saying that the same could be a mere issue from Recto Avenue’s notorious fake document mills.
In this age of fast couriers and right-on-the-second e-mail access, why did it take more than 10 days to serve the Comelec ruling to the local Comelec and the MBOC in Calbiga? In this age of computers and cell phones, when verification is literally one click away, didn’t the MBOC have the basic common sense to check with the main office and avoid making a laughingstock out of the Comelec? Or to do the most rational thing: postpone the proclamation until verification? Or is it true that somewhere down the line in the Comelec, there is a syndicate out to make the decisions of the commission—division or en banc—laughing matters?
So will we proud Calbiganons be ruled by a foreigner in the next three years, because a Comelec decision has been sabotaged, apparently for millions of reasons, and cannot be enforced due to technical gaps deliberately exploited, making a mockery of the political process? And will the Comelec chair and commissioners allow this to continue? How many cases like this are similarly situated?
Meanwhile, the anomaly—nay, absurdity—remains.
—ANUNCIACION BACSAL, firstname.lastname@example.org