By Ben Rosario | Manila Bulletin
The House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms has strongly endorsed the immediate approval of a bill that would impose stiff penalties and administrative sanctions on candidates, proclaimed winners and election officers found involved in the delay of electoral protests.
In Committee Report 0943, the House panel substituted House Bill 2761 to HB 9315 as it recommended passage of the measure that seeks expeditious resolution of electoral protests involving national, local or barangay poll results.
Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, principal author of HB 2761 said election protests puts into serious question the proclamation of the winning candidate.
The bill, he said, proposes to ensure fairness and honesty by upholding the right of the true election winners to serve. He said it will frustrate the bid of cheaters to delay the resolution of protests against their proclamation as election winners.
HB 9315 provides a time limit on the resolution of protests and a cap in the fees imposed by electoral tribunals, courts and other venues on the protester.
Suspicious delay in the resolution of electoral protest has been raised in the impeachment complaint filed by a journalist against Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.
Edwin Cordevilla noted that the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal has been sluggish in resolving the quo warranto petition filed by former Rep. Eugene De Vera against Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo.
Despite resting his case and proposing an early resolution of his protest barely three months after filing it, the HRET has allegedly continued to sit on the case.
Rodriguez’s bill proposes to limit the time of resolving electoral protests within a certain period in order to uphold the true will of the electorate.
For presidential, vice presidential and senatorial protests, the tribunals tasked to resolved the cases shall conclude the case within 24 months from the time of the proclamation of the candidate whose election is contested.
A 12-month resolution is expected on protests involving congressional and local government positions while a time limit of six months will be observed in resolving barangay cases.
In his proposal, Rodriguez called for the withhholding of salaries and benefits of the proclaimed candidate while the protest is being heard.
The candidate found cheating to secure a victory but “are eventually ousted must be barred from running in any election or in holdiing any government post.
The bill is co-authored by Reps. Francisco “Bingo” Matugas II (1st District, Surigao del Nortre); Tyrone Agabas (6th District, Pangasinan); and Juliet Marie de Leon Ferrer (4th District, Negros Occidental).