MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will abide by the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) on the petition filed by a vice presidential candidate who was declared a nuisance candidate in the last May 9, 2022 polls.
Comelec spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco said the poll body will follow the decision on the case of Wilson Cartero Abad.
“With the ruling of contempt and reprimand. This decision of our Supreme Court is wholeheartedly accepted by the Comelec including the instruction regarding the publication and publicity of all election activities and activities,” he said in a statement.
“Even before the decision in this case came out, the Comelec has introduced reform proposals under the leadership of Chairman George Erwin Garcia which include the publication by our resolution of the calendar of activities and the submission official activities and election work as additional guidance to the public and the Court,” he added.
He assured the SC and the public that Comelec “will honestly and immediately comply” with the court’s decision promulgated on July 5, 2022 but was only uploaded to its website on Nov. 22.
“Wherefore, the Petition for Certiorari filed by Wilson Caritero Amad is denied insofar as it has become moot and academic. Nevertheless, the members of the Commission on Elections are found guilty of contempt of the Supreme Court for their disobedience to the Court's lawful directive, specifically the Temporary Restraining Order dated January 20, 2022. Accordingly, they are reprimanded for this disobedience,” the 18-page ruling said.
It the noted that Commission failed to comply with temporary restraining order (TRO) it issued for proceeding with the printing of the official ballots.
“Notably, without considering Amad's statutory right to challenge the Comelec's dispositions, the Comelec proceeded with its pre-election activities, and even commenced the printing of the serialized ballots without Amad's name on January 23, 2022, after the Court's issuance of the TRO. Thus, it is simply undeniable that the Comelec violated the Court's TRO,” the SC said.
“In this regard, it is worthy to recall that Amad also sought that the Comelec be cited in contempt for its violation of the Court's TRO,” it added.
The case stemmed on the petition for certiorari filed by Abad on Jan. 4, 2022, where he urged the High Tribunal to issue a TRO or Writ of Preliminary Injunction against the decision of the First Division of the poll body which was upheld by the Commission en banc.
As for declaring the petitioner a nuisance candidate, the SC said the poll body committed grave abuse of discretion as it did not establish that the candidate should be declared as such based on Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code.
“Here, the records are bereft of any evidence to clearly establish that Amad's filing of his COC (Certificate of Candidacy) was intended to put the election process in mockery or to cause confusion among the voters. Moreover, the Comelec's allegation that Amad is only known within Northern Mindanao also does not establish that he has no bona fide intention to run for Vice President. Thus, it is manifestly clear that the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion when, without any factual or legal basis, it denied Amad's motion for reconsideration, and declared him a nuisance candidate,” it added.
The Court also ordered the Comelec to provide the tribunal with the timeline of its events and pre-election activities.
“Therefore, in order to prevent similar issues in the future, and to avoid violations of the Court's lawful orders, the Comelec must find an intricate balance between: (1) safeguarding the democratic process which necessitates respecting parties' rights to avail of their statutory remedies; and (2) ensuring a clean and fair elections which entails the timely conduct of pre-election activities,” it said. (PNA)