Unseated Albay Gov. Noel Rosal has reiterated his appeal to the Supreme Court (SC) to issue a status quo ante order (SQAO) to allow him to reassume or be reinstated to his erstwhile post as the elected governor of Albay pending resolution of his petition assailing the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) disqualification order against him.
In a 24-page “extremely urgent motion,” Rosal, through his lawyers, Romulo Macalintal and Antonio Carlos Bautista, asked the High Tribunal to “respect the manifest will of the electorate of Albay” that gave him an overwhelming 469,481 votes against his closest rival’s 238,746, indicating a margin of 230,735 votes despite a pending disqualification case against him during the election.
Rosal asked the SC to “apply the very recent decision of the court in the disqualification case of the mayor of Agoo, La Union where the court resolved all doubts in favor of the manifest will of the people electing the latter as their mayor despite a pending disqualification case.”
“Like the ousted Mayor of Agoo, La Union who was reinstated by the Supreme Court, I was decisively elected by the people of the Province of Albay as their Governor despite the pendency of a disqualification against me with a commanding 469,481 total votes. Hence, all doubts should likewise be resolved in favor of the manifest will of the people of Albay who elected me as their Governor,” Rosal stressed.
In his motion, Rosal further argued that the Comelec failed to issue the appropriate Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRRs) to implement the provision of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) for which he was disqualified by the Comelec.
“There was no IRR issued by the Comelec which specifically explained the coverage of Section 261(v)(2) of the OEC as required by Section 52 of the OEC. Absent such IRRs, the said provision is unenforceable and cannot be the basis of my disqualification.” Rosal added.
In his motion, Rosal cited the case of People vs. Reyes where the SC held that the provisions of the OEC and related election laws can only be implemented and enforced if the corresponding IRRs have been issued by the Comelec.
In addition, Rosal also argued that “the Comelec already ruled that I did not commit vote buying under Section 68(a) of the OEC and the assistance given to tricycle drivers and senior citizens were amounts due them and not for the purpose of influencing or inducing them to vote for me.”
“Hence, it is grave abuse of discretion of the Comelec to still disqualify me despite such ruling of no vote-buying and no evidence that I committed acts to influence or induce the voters to vote for me under a new provision (Section 2t61 (v)(2) of the OEC) where one element is that the release of public funds was intended to influence or induce the voters to vote for me”. Rosal said.
“In other words, Comelec is very inconsistent in its ruling because if I did not commit acts to influence or induce the voters in Section 68(a) of OEC, then the same should be applied to the alleged acts under Section 261(v)(2) of the OEC as both pertain to public funds being used to “influence or induce the voters to vote for or against a particular candidate”, Rosal added.
In his plea, Rosal asked the SC to issue the SQAO directing the Comelec to maintain the status quo prevailing before the disqualification resolutions were issued by the Comelec; to allow him to reassume the position as Albay Governor; to direct the Department of Interior and Local Government to immediately reinstate him to said position and to direct acting Gov. Edcel Greco Lagman to peaceably relinquish the said position to Rosal, until further orders from the SC.