The Supreme Court has paved the way for the Commission on Elections to go ahead with the recall proceedings against Bulacan Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado and Puerto Princesa City, Palawan Mayor Lucilo Bayron.
In its en banc session on Tuesday, the SC dismissed the separate petitions Alvarado and Bayron questioning the validity of the recall proceedings against them before the Comelec.
SC spokesperson Theodore Te said in the case of Alvarado, the tribunal affirmed the initial findings of Comelec on the sufficiency of the recall petition filed against the governor by disgruntled residents led by Perlita Mendoza.
In the assailed Comelec resolutions dated June 3, 2014 and January 30, 2015, the poll body ordered all the signatures in the petition verified to find out if the signatories were all registered voters of the province. If the signatures were found to be genuine, the poll body directed its provincial office to determine if the number was sufficient to declare a recall in the province.
“The Court agreed with the Comelec that the verification of the signatures is done during the verification process and not at the initial stage, as claimed by petitioner. Under the rules, the provincial election supervisor is only required to determine whether the percentage requirement was met and whether all the necessary documents attached to the petition are complete,” Te told reporters.
As for Bayron, the high court also sustained the resolutions issued by the Comelec in April and December last year giving due course to the recall petition filed by voter Alroben Goh.
Bayron accused the Comelec of committing grave abuse of discretion in issuing Resolution No. 9864, which affirmed the sufficiency of the recall petition.
The mayor argued that the poll body erred in dismissing his argument that the petition violated the period prescribed under paragraph (b), Section 74 of the Local Government Code, which prohibits the filing of petition seeking the recall of an elective local official within one year from the date of the official’s assumption.
Petitioner said Goh’s petition should have been dismissed for being premature.
However, the SC ruled that the issue of sufficiency of the recall elections for Bayron had already been passed upon with finality in its decision issued last year involving similar parties, but raising a different ground.
It stressed that Bayron was barred from raising new issues in a new petition because of the principle of res judicata (adherence to precedents), “which makes judgments in a previous case conclusive between the same parties as to any other matter could have been raised in relation thereto.”
“In ordering the immediate conduct of the recall elections against Mayor Bayron, the Court had in previous case already passed upon and affirmed the validity of the recall petition,” Te explained.
The SC also cited petitioner’s failure to disclose its ruling in the previous similar case.