Poll body disqualifies Laguna guv for campaign overspending

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

(UPDATED) THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday ordered the disqualification of Laguna Governor Emilio Ramon "ER" Ejercito due to campaign overspending during May 2013 midterm polls.

In a 21-page decision, the commission en banc upheld the judgment of the poll body's First Division last September 26, that found Ejercito spending beyond his P4.5 million campaign spending limit or P3 for each of the 1,525,522 registered voters in the province. Ejercito spent P23.56 million during the entire campaign period, Comelec said.

The Comelec ordered Ejercito to vacant the post. Laguna Vice Governor Ramir Hernandez Nacionalista Party (NP) would assume the governorship.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said the decision was unanimous.
"The voting was unanimous. 7-0. So, there is no doubt with our decision since there is no dissenting (opinion)," he said.

The Comelec has given Ejercito five days to appeal and ask for a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the court before the case is considered as final and executory.

"We are giving him five days within which to run to the Supreme Court and secure a TRO. Otherwise, we shall be constrained to implement the decision after the lapse of five days," Brillantes said.

Ejercito said he will fight his dismissal before the Supreme Court (SC).

"I am confident that the SC will uphold the rule of law and the voice of 550,000 voters of the Province of Laguna who voted for me. I am also confident that the SC will uphold the mandate of the people of Laguna that they have so overwhelmingly entrusted to me during the last 2010 and 2013 gubernatorial elections," he said in a statement.

The governor also thanked his supporters and the people of Laguna for continuously believing in his "good governance and public service program."

The disqualification case was filed by Edgar San Luis of the Liberal Party (LP), Ejercito's closest rival in the gubernatorial race.

Malacanang on Wednesday said it respects the decision of the Comelec to disqualify the governor of Laguna.

"Iginagalang natin ang independence ng Comelec bilang hiwalay na constituional body," said Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. in a text message to reporters.

Meanwhile, Brillantes said the disqualification of Ejercito is just the administrative aspect of the case against him.

"The criminal aspect has to go to our Law Department for further investigation. That's a different case," he added. (FP/SDR/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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