SC issues status quo on Baguio mayoralty bet and 24 others

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BAGUIO CITY – The Supreme Court (SC) en banc issued a status quo ante order that stopped the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) from enforcing Resolution No. 19-0286 which disregarded the Certificates of Candidacy (COCs) of some 25 candidates nationwide that included incumbent City Councilor Edgar M. Avila, who is aspiring for the city’s mayoralty post.

Under the status quo ante order dated April 11, 2019 which was issued by SC Clerk of Court Edgar O. Aricheta by authority of Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin, the High Court found that the petition for certiorari with prayer for the issuance of status quo ante order appeared to be sufficient in form and substance and considering the allegations contained, the issues raised in the arguments adduced in the same as well as in the prayer, it is necessary and proper to grant the relief that was prayed for.

Further, the high tribunal also directed the Comelec to comment on Avila’s petition for certiorari within 10 days upon receipt and that the status quo ante order will continue until further orders of the court.

The SC also directed the Comelec, its agents, representatives or persons acting in its place or stead, to maintain the status quo prevailing before the issuance of Comelec en banc Minute Resolution No. 19-0286 dated March 6, 2019 which declared as deemed not filed the COCs of some 25 candidates in different positions nationwide, including Avila’s COC for the city’s mayoralty post.

Earlier, Avila filed a petition for certiorari with prayer for issuance of status quo ante order or writ of preliminary injunction before the SC which questioned the validity of Comelec Resolution No. 19-0286 which considered his COC not filed.

In a 22-page petition, the mayoralty bet stated that the poll body’s own legal department found that on the 18 COCs, to seek guidance from the Commission en banc whether the COCs of 18 aspirants which lack item No. 22 but have accomplished table of case details at the dorsal portion may be deemed substantially compliant with Comelec Resolution No. 10420, as amended by Comelec Resolution No. 10430, and as such, shall be valid and deemed filed entitling the said aspirants to candidates for the May 13, 2019 national and local elections.

He asserted that he was never disqualified contrary to earlier reports considering that the grounds relied on are matters of form and not of substance required for disqualification purposes.

The petitioner alleged that to enforce the controversial and assailed Comelec resolution will result in the disenfranchisement of voters as the votes that will be casted in his favour will be disregarded considering that the same will be considered as stray based on the questioned resolution.

According to him, popular will shall be thwarted, an unconstitutional outcome that has no place in the democratic system where each vote must be counted.

With the fast-approaching election and on the principle that election matters are imbued with public interest, the petitioner wants the SC to expeditiously resolve the matter in question because time is of the essence and there is a paramount and immediate need of dispelling the uncertainty cast by the assailed resolution.

By Dexter A. See

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