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Comelec vows to speed up resolution of pending poll cases post-Degamo slay

Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairperson George Garcia on Wednesday vowed that the poll body will step up its efforts in resolving election protests and other disputes.

Garcia made the comment in response to the statement made by Senator Risa Hontiveros that the assassination of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo is also due to the prolonged resolution of his election protest, among other poll disputes the Comelec is in charge of.

Garcia said that while the poll body has been able to resolve around 9,000 cases, there are still 2,000 pending resolution.

“Our timetable is that we will resolve these [2,000] before the filing of candidacy [for the May 2025 polls] in October 2024,” Garcia said in a Super Radyo DZBB interview.

“We [also] commit that in October 2024, we will resolve all the [cases of] nuisance candidates within the same year so that we won’t proclaim the wrong person, at iyong boto ng tunay na nanalo ay nabibilang at hindi napupunta sa nuisance candidates,” Garcia added.

(We need to do this so that the votes of the real winner will be counted instead of being credited to nuisance candidates.)

The Comelec chief, however, clarified that their jurisdiction does not cover those proclaimed winners in the races in the House of Representatives, Senate, Vice President and President which are under the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, Senate Electoral Tribunal and the Supreme Court as Presidential Electoral Tribunal, respectively.

Garcia though conceded that Hontiveros has a point even as he appealed for understanding since Comelec is shorthanded in manpower to process all the electoral protests filed during the conduct of the May 2022 elections.

“We respect Senator Hontiveros, her observation is right. Pero dapat rin po maintindihan ng sambayanang Pilipino na pre-election, election proper, post-election, libo-libo po ang tinatanggap na protesta ng Comelec. There’s disqualification, cancellation of candidacy, annulment of proclamation, failure of elections, among others,” Garcia said.

(The public also needs to understand that the Comelec deals with thousands of protests in the pre-election, election proper, post-election stages.)

“And also this last election, only four Comelec Commissioners were left before I came in. In that scenario, if one commissioner won’t participate in deliberation of one case, quorum (enough attendance) won’t be reached. Kaya nagkaroon po talaga ng kaunting problema that time. At totoo po na dapat talaga pabilisin ang proseso ng mga kaso dito sa Comelec,” Garcia added.

(They really had a problem that time, and it is true that the Comelec should speed up resolution of the cases pending before it.)

It was only in February this year when the Supreme Court (SC) upheld the earlier Comelec decision declaring Degamo as the rightful winner in the 2022 Negros Oriental gubernatorial race.

The SC agreed with the Comelec that  Grego "Ruel" Degamo is a nuisance candidate, and that the votes he got should be credited to Roel Degamo.

Degamo and eight others died after armed men barged into the governor's residence on March 4 and fired shots at them. 

Negros Oriental Vice Governor Carlo Jorge Joan Reyes was sworn into office later that day as the new governor of the province. —KG, GMA Integrated News