Laguna guv questions ouster with SC

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Friday, May 23, 2014

EMBATTLED Laguna Governor Emilio Ramon "ER" Ejercito asked the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday to invalidate a resolution of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) ordering his ouster for campaign overspending in last year's midterm polls.

Ejercito said his right to due process was violated when the Comelec ruled in favor of the petition of 2013 rival Edgar San Luis, who supposedly sought for the governor's prosecution only for an election offense and not disqualification from office.

"Indeed, a judgment meting out the penalty of disqualification before the conduct of a preliminary investigation into the factual allegations thereof is premature and constitutes a clear violation of petitioner's right to due process," the petition stated.

The governor also slammed the Comelec for relying on an advertising contract between ABS-CBN Corp. and Scenema Concept Intl. Inc. as proof that he went beyond the P4.5-million spending cap.

He said the contract, which was reportedly worth P6 million, "was never offered in evidence" and his camp was never furnished a copy.

Ejercito claimed he was unaware that the contract was entered into by one of his supporters and that his signature was forged.

"Even assuming that such contract benefited petitioner (Ejercito), he should not be penalized for the conduct of third parties who acted on their own without petitioner’s consent or for the inclusion in his campaign expenditure of the subject contract. Every voter has the right to support a particular candidate in the free exercise of his constitutionally-guaranteed right of expression," the petition read.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said that if the SC will not issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) sometime next week, their May 21 decision disqualifying the Laguna governor will already be deemed executory.

"By Wednesday or Thursday (if there is no TRO), we will already have the decision sent to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for implementation," he said.

The governor allegedly spent P23.56 million for his re-election campaign when he is only allowed to cough up P3 per voter or P4.5 million covering Laguna's 1,525,522 registered voters last year. (Virgil Lopez/FP/Sunnex)

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