The Commission on Elections Second Division has dismissed thecase filed against Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo seeking his disqualification as governor and a petition of defeated gubernatorial candidate George Arnaiz to intervene in the case.

This was contained in a Comelec Second Division resolution dated April 18 on the petition filed by June Vincent Gaudan to deny due course or cancel the COC of Degamo and to disqualify him for the position of governor in Negros Oriental during the May 9, 2016 gubernatorial race.

Even if all the rules are set aside, including Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) and the provisions of Rule 23 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure, Sec. 1, the case filed against Degamo is still dismissible for two reasons: first, petitioner Gaudanpresented no proof that the imposition of the penalty of dismissal by the Ombudsman is final; and second, at the time Degamo filed his Certificate of Candidacy the alleged ineligibility described by Gaudan has yet to exist, the Comelec Second Division ruled.

Arnaizhad also filed a petition as intervenor on June 17, 2016, alleging that he is virtually interested in and will be affected by the outcome of the petition because he obtained the second highest number of votes during the last elections for the office of the Governor. In his petition, Arnaiz claimed that, in the event Degamo is disqualified, he is the logical candidate who should be proclaimed and, for this reason, he filed the petition-in-intervention.

But the Comelec Second Division dismissed Arnaiz petition for violating Section 78 of OEC and pertinent sections of Rule 23 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure.

The poll body made it clear that the case should properly be categorized as a petition to deny due course to, or cancel the COC of Degamo and not a petition for disqualification.

The ComelecSecond Division also said the petition was not timely filed. Records show that Degamo filed his COC on Oct. 15, 2015 and in order to comply with Section 78, Gaudan should file his petition on or before Nov. 9, 2015 but he filed the same on April 22, 2016, and so Comelec cannot take jurisdiction over the case.

Even if the petition was filed on time, the case should still be dismissed for violating another Rule 23 provision, particularly Section 1 which says a verified petition to deny due course to or cancel a COC for any elective office maybe filed by any registered voter or a duly registered political party, organization, or coalition of political parties on the exclusive ground that any material representation contained there as required by law is false, it said.

The Comelec said a petition to deny due course to or cancel the COC invoking grounds other than those stated above or grounds for disqualification, or combining grounds for a separate remedy, shall be summarily dismissed.

In this case, petitioner Gaudan not only prayed for Degamo’s disqualification but also for his perpetual disqualification by reason of the joint Ombudsman ruling, thus, violating the second paragraph of Section 1, Rule 23.

Lastly, the advent of the Ombudsman order cannot be used to cancel Degamo’s COC for material misrepresentation because the order came months after Degamo filed his COC.*JuanchoGallarde