Puerto Princesa City mayor Lucilo R. Bayron. (File photo from City Mayor's Office-Puerto Princesa FB page)

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Second Division has dismissed a petition seeking the cancellation of Mayor Lucilo Bayron’s certificate of candidacy for the coming May 9 elections, citing incomplete documents and lack of sufficient evidence.

According to the petitioners, they were notified of the decision on January 28 and received a copy on February 2.

The petition filed by Benhar Halipa, Salvador Tinay, and Francis Laurence, sought to cancel Bayron’s COC by citing his 2016 Sandiganbayan case and arguing that he was never removed from office during his second term.

Bayron was removed from office in 2017 by the Office of the Ombudsman, but was reinstated a few months later, and his sentence was reduced to a mere suspension from office following his exoneration by the Court of Appeals.

Another petition, filed by Nelson Morondoz, sought to disqualify Bayron due to the three-term restriction for mayors, which COMELEC has yet to rule on.

The COMELEC Second Division said in its January 28 resolution that the petitioners failed to comply with a requirement imposed in Section 2, Rule 23 of COMELEC Resolution 9523.

The division added that petitioners also failed to attach a copy of Bayron’s certificate of candidacy, hence, it “cannot decide based on a mere allegation by Petitioner.”

According to Tinay, they received a copy of the resolution on February 2.

He stated that they are not discouraged by the decision and that they will take further steps to disqualify Bayron, even if he wins the election in May.

“Mas masaya nga eh, habang nagkakampanya si Mayor Bayron, nag-aalala siya kung madedesisyunan ba sila ng en banc kung pabor sa amin o pabor sa kanila. Kahit na matapos ang election, makaupo siya [Bayron], hindi siya makakatulog kasi iniisip niya kung madedesisyunan ba siya. Kasi ang pinag-uusapan naman is not disqualification, cancellation and denial of COC ang finile,” Tinay said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

“Kasi very small [ang] technicality. Ang pinag-usapan sa naging decision ay ‘yong napakaliit na teknikalidad na hindi namin na-attach ang kanyang COC. Kung sasabihin ng COMELEC because of some technicalities dinismiss nila dahil hindi namin nai-attach, e sila ang may hawak ng dokumento,” he added.

Tinay added that they already filed a motion for consideration on Monday to the commission en banc and it has already been received by the main COMELEC office.

Likewise, city administrator Atty. Arnel Pedrosa stated that Bayron’s camp welcomes the decision. He added that even the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) presented their opinion that Bayron’s suspension in 2017 cut short his second term, hence he is eligible to run again for another term.

“It was for failure of the petitioners to discharge the burden of proving that Mayor Bayron was disqualified. Pinawalang-bisa na at binasura na ng COMELEC 2nd Division. Siyempre naman, natutuwa si mayor, na maliban sa DILG, pati na rin ang COMELEC, na qualified siya to run for election,

Pedrosa added that Bayron’s detractors are free to exercise their right to file a motion on the case.

“They are entitled to do that, karapatan nila ‘yon. If they are not satisfied, they can go to the Supreme Court, kung iyon talaga ang pinaniniwalaan nila,” he added.

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is a senior reporter for Palawan News who covers politics, education, environment, tourism, and human interest stories. She loves watching Netflix, reading literary fiction, and listens to serial fiction podcasts. Her favorite color is blue.