MANILA – A petition to disqualify former Palawan governor Mario Joel Reyes, who is running for the same position in the upcoming polls, has been filed before the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

In their petition filed on April 28, a copy of which was released on Tuesday, Nasir Miranda and Mohammad Asgali urged the Comelec to disqualify Reyes from running for Palawan governor anew for being a convicted criminal.

"The disqualification from public office imposed on (the) respondent is clear and undeniable. The disqualification of the respondent as a gubernatorial candidate of the province of Palawan for the 2022 National and Local Elections is necessarily called for," the petitioners said.

"Wherefore, premises considered, it is respectfully prayed of the Honorable Commission that respondent Mario Joel T. Reyes be declared disqualified to run for any elective position."

The petitioners said Reyes should be barred from running as he is known to be a fugitive from justice after fleeing the country in 2012 after he was charged with the murder of broadcaster Gerry Ortega.

"Given the foregoing timeline of events, (the) respondent must be in the process of serving his sentence, or at the very least, still in detention," they added.

The petitioners, who are registered voters of Palawan, said the pending motion for reconsideration of Reyes involving his conviction in 2019 for violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which is punishable by six years to eight years imprisonment, is intended to delay the court proceedings.

"The petitioners respectfully call upon the Honorable Commission to see (the) respondent's filed certificate of candidacy for what it truly is, a mockery of the electoral process through the circumvention of laws and misuse of rules of procedure," they said.

Under the Local Government Code, individuals who are sentenced by final judgment for an offense involving moral turpitude or for an offense punishable by one year or more of imprisonment are disqualified to run from public office, along with those identified as fugitives from justice in criminal or nonpolitical cases, locally or abroad. (PNA)