Sanctions eyed vs Palawan mayor for disrupting Comelec proceedings

IMAGE__101512__UNTV-News__COMELEC-logo2The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will look into possible sanctions against Puerto Princesa Mayor Lucilo Bayron, who disrupted the poll body’s validation of signatures in a recall petition against him last week.

A video posted on Youtube, which has now gone viral, shows an angry Bayron barging into the Comelec’s operations at the city coliseum last February 28. Bayron confronted a poll official from whom he grabbed what appeared to be a document which he tore up, practically disrupting the proceedings.

“What we will do about it will be something that the en banc has to decide,” said Comelec spokesman James Jimenez in an interview with reporters on Tuesday.

“The important question there was why did he feel empowered to do that? Why did he feel he can take an official document and tear it up? That’s more crucial than anything,” said Jimenez.

The verification of signatures is crucial as it would validate the legitimacy of the recall petition filed against Bayron by Alroben Goh, a former city information officer of Puerto Princesa and ally of former Mayor Edward Hagedorn. Goh complained earlier that residents have lost confidence in the mayor.

While Bayron may not be barred from the area where the recall proceedings were being held, Jimenez said the poll body is more concerned with the actuations of the mayor snatching an official Comelec document and destroying it.

Jimenez said that what Bayron did will not stop the document from being submitted to the Comelec by the election officer.

“[His act] did not seem to have accomplished anything. It certainly does not stop whatever that order was saying should be done,” stressed Jimenez. “The document is just a representation of what happened. Why tear it up? We can just produce another one as long as we can prove that we don’t change anything in the content.”

Jimenez said the report of the findings with regards to the validation of signatures have already been submitted to the Comelec’s Office of the Deputy Executive Director for Operations (ODEDO).

Jimenez, however, said he could not discuss the content of the report as it is still pending with the ODEDO, which, in turn, will be making a recommendation to the Comelec en banc.

Under existing recall guidelines, the verification of the signatures will be followed by the announcement of the Comelec en banc of the acceptance of candidates to the position, with Bayron automatically a candidate, and set the date of the recall elections.

Bayron earlier claimed that the Comelec had arbitrarily suspended its verification proceedings on the recall petition seeking his ouster.

He described the halt to the validation as “an obvious attempt to railroad the implementation of a sham recall election that was already exposed to contain thousands of fraudulent signatures including signatures of dead people.”

He claimed that of the 35,731 signatures in the petition, only 32,322 have been examined and verified.

He said a total of 3,409 signatures have yet to be verified, “but the election officer assigned to this petition abruptly ended the verification process without offering any justification at all. Clearly, the election officer has unfinished business.”

But Bayron’s claim is unfounded, said Jimenez, explaining that the Office of the Election Officer can close the verification once the required threshold of signatures has been met.

“You get as many signatures as you can and once you get enough signatures, tapos ang usapan. The threshold is only 15 percent, not necessarily 100 percent. I think there already more than enough,” said Jimenez.

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