Review illogical rule on LGU succession
I fully realize that the point I am about to raise may be moot and academic. My hope runs high, nevertheless, that it would be given due course for whatever worth it hopes to put across.
This specifically refers to the disqualification of Jeorge “ER” Ejercito as provincial governor of Laguna. We can all agree that the Commission on Elections rightly unseated Ejercito for overspending in last year’s elections. But that it was the incumbent vice governor who replaced him, not Ejercito’s lone opponent, should deserve some deeper thinking, at least from the standpoint of plain logic.
The facts of the case indicate that Ejercito was legally allowed to spend only P4.5 million but spent a total of P23.5 million to get elected, of which P6 million was covered by just one receipt/contract for television advertising.
As far as I humbly know, media entities are required by existing regulations to submit to the Comelec advertising contracts, broadcast logs and related certificates of performance within five days from the signing of the contracts and before the airing or publication of the political ads—in other words, long before the elections. Therefore, given the aforementioned P6-million single receipt/contract for the television ad, the Comelec, long before the elections, had known that Ejercito had already violated the campaign expenditure limit and should have been disqualified right then and there from running. That, in turn, would have left his sole rival as the only and effectively unopposed candidate; hence, the eventual governor of Laguna.
So, I ask: What is the logic behind putting the duly elected vice governor as Ejercito’s replacement, as well as in promoting the first-placer board member to the post of vice governor and then naming an otherwise losing candidate to complete the desired number in the provincial board?
I know that all that was in accordance with the rule on succession under the Local Autonomy Code. But that rule, I submit, essentially applies to a normal case; and this one is definitely not normal because Ejercito, from the very beginning, was effectively disqualified to run, much less to become governor. Therefore, his opponent should have been the governor. At least, if the Comelec had been a bit more alert and decisive. That it was not need not necessarily disturb the provincial organization chart of Laguna this much.
As things are, given the Comelec’s witting or unwitting ineptitude in disqualifying Ejercito in due course, his sole rival’s political right as unopposed candidate had been virtually ignored. Well, if this is not a classic case of “justice delayed, justice denied,” I do not know what is!
Incidentally, a similar case looms in the offing. Reportedly, the Supreme Court is now poised to decide on the pending disqualification case against Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada. For all the reasons I have cited above, I am sure former Mayor Alfredo Lim will shout until hell in the event the high court rules against Erap and Vice Mayor Isko Moreno succeeds him.
—RUDY L. CORONEL,