The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has overturned the decision on the petition for disqualification against Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba.
The Comelec en banc noted that the petition has to be dismissed as it was filed after Mamba was already proclaimed as the duly elected governor of Cagayan.
“It follows from the foregoing discussion that the subject petition must be dismissed outright for being filed out of time and for being the wrong remedy for having been filed after respondent’s proclamation,” the 18-page decision released on Monday said.
“We resolve to dismiss the subject petition for lack of jurisdiction,” the poll body added.
Comelec rules state that petitions for disqualification of candidates may be filed any day “after the last day for filing of certificates of candidacy, but not later than the date of proclamation.”
“The petition, filed on May 10, 2022, at 18:21:41 GMT+8, is considered as filed at 8:00 A.M. of the next working day, i.e., May 11, 2022, 8:00 A.M., which is after the proclamation of respondent. The Certificate of Canvass of Votes and Proclamation shows that respondent was proclaimed by the Provincial Board of Canvassers on May 11, 2022 at 1:39:54 A.M.,” it said.
The decision reversed the ruling of the Second Division citing violation of the ban on spending of public funds during the last polls.
In December 2022, the Division found Mamba guilty of releasing public funds during the 45-day prohibited period in connection with the release of PHP550 million public funds under the No Barangay Left Behind (NBLB), No Town Left Behind (NLTB), and Oplan Tulong sa Barangay (OTB) programs.
“This proclamation effectively divested the Commission of any authority to hear and decide disqualification cases filed after the same. Thus, the Commission has no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the subject petition as it was filed after respondent’s proclamation,” the Comelec said.
On the other hand, the poll body said despite the dismissal of the disqualification case, Mamba is not yet free from any accountability.
“Notwithstanding, the criminal aspect of the case must be referred to the Law Department for preliminary investigation in line with the pronouncement in Lanot (case), wherein the Supreme Court emphasized the separate and independent nature of the criminal and electoral aspects of a disqualification case,” it said.