By Ellson Quismorio
The re-election of LRay Villafuerte as Camarines Sur second district congressman is now practically a sure thing following the disqualification of his supposed lone rival in the upcoming polls, Maribel Andaya-Eusebio.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec), sitting as an entire body, junked the appeal of Andaya-Eusebio to be recognized as a registered voter in the same district thereby disqualifying her in her bid for that congressional seat.
All that Villafuerte needs come the midterm polls on May 13 is to get at least one vote to his name, which he could easily secure via his own ballot. Villafuerte is a former three-term governor of the province from 2007 to 2016.
Andaya-Eusebio is an ex-Pasig City mayor and the sister of House Appropriations Committee Chairman, Camarines Sur 1st district Rep. Rolando Andaya, Jr.
Last year, she pursued the transfer of her voter registration records from Pasig City to Barangay Puro Batia in order to facilitate her run for a seat in the House of Representatives. However, her request to have her voter registration records transferred was denied by the Comelec’s Election Registration Board (ERB) in October.
Andaya-Eusebio had appealed successively the ERB’s decision against her before the Third Metropolitan Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Libmanan-Cabusao, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Libmanan, and the Comelec’s first division. All of them rejected her pleas.
In its en banc resolution, the Comelec said the fact that Andaya-Eusebio knew that she was not yet a registered voter of Barangay Puro Batia, yet claiming that she was, was proof that she was not acting in good faith when she filed her certificate of candidacy (COC).
“Exerting efforts to have her registration transferred is not the same as being a registered voter already. In fact, in exerting efforts to have her registration records transferred, she knew that she was not yet a registered voter. That it was eventually denied, and her subsequent efforts to have it reversed are of no moment,” the poll body said in its resolution denying Andaya-Eusebio’s Motion for Reconsideration (MR) that sought a reversal of the ruling against her by the Comelec’s first division.
The en banc resolution was signed by all five commissioners who were present during the en banc session.
Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo said Andaya-Eusebio should be promptly investigated and, when appropriate, prosecuted for committing an election offense punishable under the Omnibus Election Code (OEC).
“The Commission has a constitutional duty to investigate, and where, appropriate, prosecute cases involving election offenses,” he noted in his concurring opinion.
“Hence, the election offense aspect of this case should be referred to the Law Department for the conduct of preliminary investigation for possible violation of election laws, particularly Section 262, in relation to Section 74, of the OEC, pursuant to the authority of the Commission to motu propio initiate a complaint for the said offense,” Casquejo said.