Jailed ex-VM wins Council seat

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

FORMER Toledo City vice mayor Ricardo Rafols Jr. was proclaimed councilor-elect of Toledo City, Cebu by the City Board of Canvassers yesterday morning.

Rafols got over 16,000 votes and ranked third in the council race, according to the tally of votes by the Comelec.

Rafols’ victory surprised the Cebuanos, particularly the residents of Toledo City.


That's because he has been detained at the Toledo City Jail since August last year, following his conviction in a malversation case, which stemmed from his failure to return P200,000 worth of government properties in 2001.

Rafols was not able to go out and campaign for himself and his party mates since the trial court in Toledo City sentenced him to life in jail.

Now that he won but stays behind bars, how will Rafols be able to discharge his duties as a councilor?

Toledo City mayor-elect John Henry “Sonny” Osmeña, an ally of Rafols, said they will exhaust all legal remedies to have him released.

Osmeña believes that the Aguinaldo Doctrine will apply in Rafols’ case despite his life sentence.

“We will try to get his release on the basis of the Aguinaldo Doctrine. We've seen that he has been vindicated by the people because he was accused, charged and sentenced and now he was elected councilor. We are hopeful for the Aguinaldo Doctrine," Osmeña told Sun.Star Cebu in a phone interview.

In resolving the case of then Cagayan Gov. Rodolfo Aguinaldo versus then Local Government Secretary Luis Santos, the High Court held that the administrative liability of elected officials becomes moot upon their reelection.

“This is because reelection operates as a condonation by the electorate of the misconduct committed by an elective official during his previous term,” the SC explained, this time in the 1999 Cebu case of Garcia versus Mojica.

The doctrine, however, does not apply to criminal cases.

The trial court in Toledo City convicted Rafols of malversation for failure to return City-owned items and properties worth about P200,000 in 2001.

Osmeña said Rafol’s conviction was “binuang (nonsense)."

Rafols, an independent candidate, was among the Toledo City bets who were proclaimed winners yesterday morning.

The former senator said the party and the councilor's family members campaigned for him.

Osmeña also unseated former Mayor Aurelio Espinosa of One Cebu.

The former senator also suspects they were cheated during canvassing last Monday night.

He said they were told the canvassing of votes by Comelec was to resume on Tuesday morning.

When they left the gymnasium, Osmeña said they were not aware the canvassing of votes continued.

“They continued all night and when we came back in the morning, they just told us that instead of seven, only three of our candidates won. So I feel strongly that we were cheated during the night,” he said.

Osmeña said he asked their lawyers to review the minutes of the canvass before making any legal move.

Osmeña's other winning partymates are Solly Abellanosa and Merly Abad of the Liberal Party.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 15, 2013.

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