Deputy Speaker Prospero A. Pichay Jr. (File photo)

MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has junked the disqualification case against Deputy Speaker Rep. Prospero A. Pichay Jr. of Surigao del Sur for his congressional bid in the upcoming May 2022 elections.

In a resolution rendered on February 15 and was released to media on Wednesday, the Comelec's former First Division dismissed the petition filed in November last year to cancel the Certificate of Candidacy (COC) of Pichay filed by his opponent, Construction Workers' Solidarity Party-list Rep. Romeo Momo.

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

Pichay, in his defense, 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).

Pichay said the penalty of perpetual disqualification is not yet final because it was appealed before the Supreme Court.

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

Comelec also declared there was no false material representation when he declared that he was eligible to run for office.

“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,” the resolution read, invoking the policy regarding the finality of judgments like conviction.

The poll body said the provision should not be read to include the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification as this would run contrary to construction of the law, the purpose behind it, and standing jurisprudence,” it said. (PNA)