MALOLOS CITY—The Commission on Election En Banc has trashed the Temporary Restraining Order issued by Bulacan Regional Trial Court-Branch 83 Judge Guillermo P. Agloro stopping the validation of signatures and thumb marks of some 319, 707 petitioners in connection with the recall proceedings against Bulacan Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado.
The Comelec resolution also addressed concerns raised by acting Provincial Election Supervisor Jerbee Anthony Cortez regarding the lack of personnel and teachers to perform the scheduled validation and verification procedures required to meet the tight deadline of the recall elections.
The Comelec also moved the scheduled validation of signatures from March 9-23 to March 14 to 28.
It ordered the investigation of relieved Bulacan PES Elmo T. Duque for possible filing of charges for allegedly delaying the recall proceedings.
Elections Officers (EO) from the four districts of Bulacan said that none of the 107 Validation Centers (VC) that was proposed by PES Cortez have commenced the verification of signatures and thumb marks, a mandatory requirement pursuant to Comelec Resolution 7505.
In a separate Order issued last March 10, Comelec Chairman Christian Robert S. Lim also ordered Judge Agloro to comment on the petition of former provincial administrator Perlita Mendoza to cite the RTC judge and Alvarado for “indirect contempt for wilfully, maliciously and unlawfully interfering with the processes of the Commission en banc.”
Lawyer Bernadette Serdillo, counsel of Mendoza, earlier argued before the issuance of the TRO that the RTC has no jurisdiction over the recall proceedings as the Supreme Court on February 16 has also spoken and dismissed the petition for a TRO earlier filed by Alvarado before the high tribunal.
Judge Agloro and Alvarado were ordered to appear before the Commission En Banc on March 25.
Provincial Attorney Jeff Cruz, however, said they are confident that the TRO issued by the Court has a strong legal basis to stand on. The TRO zeroed in on the defect and legal infirmity when Mendoza herself caused the publication of the ‘Petition for Recall’ in the newspapers Tribune and Rekta, a task which the Bulacan PES should have performed under the law.
As this developed, Joe Villanueva, convenor of Philippine Crusade for Justice (PCJ) which is closely monitoring the recall proceedings, is asking the commission to put under Comelec control the entire province to ensure peace and order in the implementation of the recall proceedings amid tension brought about by the contradictory orders of the RTC and the Comelec.
PCJ cited reports that some of the signatories, who are beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, in the recall petition are being harassed to disown their signatures or face cancellation of the money they are receiving from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Gov. Alvarado on the other hand told MST that most of the petitioners whose names appear in the recall-petition disowned their signatures and were unaware of the recall petition when they signed the forms. He said other petitioner’s signatures were done by a ‘master forger’ who even included names of dead persons and those already living abroad.