Comelec en banc rules: Arcilla couldn’t run

CEBU, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc has affirmed the decision of its First Division disqualifying Cebu City North District Councilor Alvin Arcilla from running for a fresh term in the last midterm elections.

Arcilla, the en banc ruled, has already exhausted his three consecutive terms as city councilor and therefore not eligible to run for another term in the May 13 polls, where he ended up securing the sixth spot in the race to the City Council.

Comelec-Cebu City North District election officer Chauncey Boholst said the ruling is “executory” in the sense that it can be implemented as soon as complainant Allen Canoy, a registered voter in Barangay Apas, files a motion for execution before the poll body.

In its decision dated May 28, the en banc affirmed the March 19 resolution of the Comelec First Division disqualifying Arcilla. In the same decision, it also resolved and denied his motion for reconsideration.

The order was signed by Sheriff Abas, chairman of Comelec en banc, along with commissioners Al Parreño, Rowena Amelia Guanzon, Socorro Inting, Marlon Casquejo, Antonio Kho Jr., and Luie Tito Guia.

The First Division stated in its decision that elective officials shall observe the three-term limit rule in public office as provided under Section 8, Article X of the 1987 Constitution and Section 43 (b) of Republic Act No. 7160 or Local Government Code of 1991.

With this, the en banc could not find enough basis to modify the argument detailed by Arcilla in his motion.

Arcilla’s third consecutive term is ending this year. But he had contended that his service was interrupted when he was suspended from office from May 17, 2016 to June 30, 2016.

Thus, he believed that he was still eligible to run for the same position in the midterm polls.

But the decision read: “An interruption occurs when the term is broken because the office holder lost the right to hold on his office, and cannot be equated with the failure to render service. The latter occurs during an office holder’s term when he retains title to the office but cannot exercise his functions for reasons established by law.”

The disqualification stemmed from the petition filed by Canoy, who claimed that Arcilla was ineligible to run anew since he had been elected for the same position for three consecutive terms already: 2010-2013, 2013-2016, and 2016-2019.

Arcilla was among the officials suspended by the Office of the President in 2016 over the controversial release of calamity assistance to City Hall officials and employees in 2013 even if they were not directly affected by super typhoon Yolanda and the Bohol earthquake that year.

Win for Guardo, Garganera?

North District Councilor Sisinio Andales is also facing a similar disqualification case before the Comelec on the same ground, although an en banc decision on the case has yet to be released.

In May, the Second Division already ruled to disqualify Andales.

Boholst, who already received a soft copy of the en banc decision on Arcilla’s case, said that in the absence of a motion for execution, Arcilla can still continue to hold office.

But he added that once Canoy secures the motion for execution, Comelec-Cebu City will then await the order from en banc directing the Board of Canvassers to reconvene to proclaim outgoing councilor Jerry Guardo as among of the elected officials in the 2019 polls. Guardo ranked 9th in the last elections.

The Board of Canvassers will be composed of Boholst, a representative from Department of Education, and a representative from the Commission on Audit.

“Ako mismo, dili ko ka-automatically execute or implement the judgment kay para nako naa’y kuwang ang resolution. Ang katong complainant (Canoy) mo-file siya og motion for execution sa judgment,” Boholst said.

He said Arcilla’s legal remedy is to file a petition for the issuance of temporary restraining order (TRO) so that he can appeal the ruling before the Supreme Court.

Based on the rules and procedures, Arcilla has five days to file for TRO upon receipt of the en banc decision.

The FREEMAN tried to get Arcilla’s comment yesterday but received no response from his end.

Meanwhile, if Andales suffers the same fate as Arcilla, the position vacated would be filled in by Councilor Joel Garganera, who ranked 10th in the race. (FREEMAN)



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