The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has junked the disqualification case filed against Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur 1st district Rep. Prospero “Butch” Pichay of the Lakas–Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) party, the solon's camp told House reporters via a statement Wednesday, Feb. 16.
A petition to disqualify Pichay from his reelection bid was filed by former Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) regional director and Construction Workers' Solidarity Party-list Rep. Romeo Momo last November 2021.
Momo, who is also running for the position of Surigao del Sur 1st district representative, filed the disqualification case on the basis of a previous dismissal case from Pichay’s tenure as Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) chairman during the Arroyo presidency.
Pichay said that Momo had filed similar petitions for his disqualification in previous elections, and that all ended up getting junked.
“Pending the resolution of his appeal with the Supreme Court (SC), we cannot hold that the perpetual disqualification is effective against Pichay...Consequently, there was no false material representation when he declared that he was eligible to run for office,” read the Comelec’s resolution on Pichay’s disqualification case.
“In fine, this commission is duty-bound to strictly construe Rule III Section 7 of the Ombudsman rules because of the extraordinary nature of executions pending appeal,” the resolution stated.
“Said provision should not be read to include the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification as this would run contrary to a construction of the law, the purpose behind it, and standing jurisprudence,” it concluded.
The SC has, in the past, affirmed Pichay’s dismissal from his post as LWUA chairman and, in 2009, affirmed graft charges against him in relation to an alleged P780-million unlawful water agency investment made to the Express Savings Bank, Inc. (ESBI).