Comelec upholds ruling disqualifying Ilocos Norte Mayor
by Cristina Arzadon
Laoag City (16 September) -- The Commission on Elections has upheld the ruling of its Second Division disqualifying Dingras Mayor Marynette Gamboa from the May 10 elections in connection with felony charges she is facing in the United States.
In a resolution promulgated on August 31, the Comelec said the "Division correctly found Gamboa disqualified from running (for the position of mayor) being a fugitive from justice."
Gamboa's candidacy was questioned in a petition filed by Nathaniel Ruben Taylan claiming that she was indicted for three felony charges in the State of California and that she failed to appear during a scheduled hearing resulting in the forfeiture of her bail and the issuance of an arrest warrant against her.
Gamboa subsequently questioned the Division's ruling issued on May 7 in a motion for reconsideration.
She asked Comelec to reverse the decision citing her being proclaimed as mayor as one of the grounds.
The Comelec, however, found no reason to reverse the earlier ruling.
Citing Section 6 of the Electoral Reforms Law of 1997, the Comelec said it "is empowered to continue the proceedings in a disqualification case not yet resolved with finality before an election and may even declare a proclaimed candidate disqualified."
"While we recognize the power of the electorate's sovereign will, this is not enough for us to turn a blind eye to Gamboa's ineligibility for being a fugitive from justice. The will of the people as expressed through the ballot cannot cure the vice of ineligibility, especially if they mistakenly believed that the candidate was qualified," the Comelec resolution said.
Gamboa's proclamation as mayor having been annulled, the Comelec said the succession to the post shall be governed by the provisions of Section 44 of the Local Government Code of 1991.
The provision states that "if a permanent vacancy occurs in the offices of the governor, vice governor, mayor or vice mayor, the highest ranking Sanggunian member or, in case of his permanent inability, the second highest ranking Sanggunian member, shall become the governor, vice governor, mayor or vice mayor, as the case may be." (PIA Ilocos Norte) [top]