Cotabato City—The Commission on Elections First Division has resolved to cancel the certificate of candidacy (CoC) of a gubernatorial contender in Sultan Kudarat province, which has drawn mixed reactions from local political pundits.
The case stemmed from a Comelec petition filed last year by former Mutya Ng Pilipinas-Miss Asia Pacific Sharifa Akeel, purporting that her political opponent, Datu Pax Ali Mangudadatu, allegedly lacked the required period of residency to run for governor of Sultan Kudarat.
Else, colloquially his opponent “only needs a vote”, as it is in a toss coin to literally win the one-on-one gubernatorial race, if Akeel sustained a legal win—or so, keen political observers have noted.
But Ms. Akeel’s husband, Maguindanao Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu, said the poll body’s First Division resolution ordering the cancellation of a CoC would have to be construed differently from a disqualification of a candidate.
A quick reaction to the Comelec First Division’s resolution was raised by local candidate Odin Abdula, a political ally of the younger Mangudadatu, saying the case will drag on in appeals and in other legal options available to the respondent.
The respondent is the son of Maguindanao Gov. Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu and Sultan Kudarat Gov. Suharto Mangudadatu. The political dispute involving members of the powerful clan supposedly prompted the younger Mangudadatu to resign an elective mayoral post in Datu Abdullah Sangki town.
From where such observers stand, the crucial issue, they said, is the start and the period of official ballot printing—against which time to appeal the resolution and be reversed, possibly, by the Comelec en banc to restore a canceled CoC.
The division’s resolution was promulgated via two affirmative votes and one abstention, a copy obtained by reporters disclosed.
“Let the records of the case be forwarded to the Law department of the Commission for the conduct of a preliminary investigation relative to the election offense aspect of this case,” the poll body’s First Division said in its 23-page resolution.
Abdula cited a case titled “Imelda Marcos vs. Comelec” in which he said the Supreme Court overturned a Comelec en banc Decision, disqualifying then-congressional candidate Imelda Marcos from running in a district in Tacloban City.
A lawyer said: “The dispositive portion (concluding paragraph) of the Comelec First Division resolution has the inkling (hint) of a prosecution,” meaning the parties would have to shift eventually the venue of legal dispute to a regular court in which the petitioner is usually represented by the commission as the “plaintiff.”
Meanwhile, the lawyer added that the respondent “may normally question the basis of the cancellation as he may appeal the Division’s resolution to the Commission en banc for the restoration of a canceled CoC.”