Photo courtesy of City Mayor's Office-Puerto Princesa./ File photo

Petitioners questioning the legality of mayor-elect Lucilo Bayron’s candidacy during the recent polls have asked the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) en banc to resolve the matter.

This follows the dismissal by the COMELEC 2nd Division of an earlier petition they had filed, through a ruling issued January 28.

Petitioners Benhar Hamisain Halipa, Salvador Tinay, and Francis Laurence Ganibo have filed a “Motion for early resolution of petitioners’ motion for reconsideration dated February 3,” after the COMELEC Second Division dismissed their petition.

“Ang kailangan lang namin ay malaman ang katotohanan. Sagutin na lang nila para matapos na. Kasi on my part, nakakainip na. If they (COMELEC) decide against our petition, then I will file a motion before the Supreme Court,” Tinay told Palawan News on Monday.

The three petitioners filed their original petition against Bayron in November 2019, citing a 2016 ruling issued by the Sandiganbayan removing Bayron from office for grave misconduct and serious dishonesty.

In 2017, however, the Ombudsman downgraded its decision to a mere three-month suspension. The Court of Appeals also exonerated Bayron, paving the way for his return.

The petitioners have asserted that the intervening decisions did not interrupt his term of office and that Bayron should not have been allowed to run for the post, having completed a maximum of three consecutive terms.

Bayron proceeded to win the mayoralty race on May 9, defeating four other candidates for the city’s top elective post.

Arguing that according to COMELEC rules, Bayron countered that his suspension in 2017 cut short his second term as city mayor, therefore qualifying him to run for a fresh term. He also cited a Supreme Court 2019 decision that allowed Camarines Norte governor Edgardo Tallado to serve a 4th term because of an interruption.

On January 28, this year, the COMELEC Second Division dismissed the petition citing a lack of necessary documents, particularly Bayron’s Certificate of Candidacy for the May 2022 elections, hence, it “cannot decide based on a mere allegation by the petitioner.”

The Second Division also said petitioners failed to comply with a requirement imposed in Section 2, Rule 23 of COMELEC Resolution 9523.

Palawan News sought a reaction from City Administrator Atty. Arnel Pedrosa, but he said he had no idea about the recent motion. He also said Bayron’s election lawyer is the one handling the case, and he does not know if they already have a copy of the motion.

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