MANILA - (UPDATED) Laguna Vice-Governor Ramil Hernandez was sworn in on Tuesday as governor of Laguna province replacing ER Ejercito, a nephew of Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.
Hernandez took his oath at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) main office in Intramuros, Manila. Poll commissioner Elias Yusoph administered the oath.
This comes after the Comelec ordered Ejercito to vacate his post after he was found guilty of election overspending during the 2013 midterm polls.
Ejercito has rejected the order and petitioned the Supreme Court to stop Comelec from implementing his ouster.
Supporters of the ousted governor have also barricaded the provincial capitol after the deadline for the governor to secure a restraining order from the Supreme Court passed.
In a press briefing, Hernandez said it is up to the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police to implement the Comelec order.
He said that while there has been no threat of violence, he confirmed there are "some friends who are trying to resolve the situation in a diplomatic manner."
"I hope there is a quiet transition and turnover in our province. If something bad happens, it is Laguna that will be affected," he said.
Edgar San Luis of the Liberal Party (LP) first filed the petition for disqualification against Ejercito, stating that Ejercito was allowed to spend only P4.5 million or P3 for each of the 1,525,522 voters in Laguna.
Hernandez pointed out that he and San Luis were not running-mates in the last election. Hernandez is a member of the Nacionalista Party (NP).
The Comelec en banc later affirmed the decision of the First Division ousting Ejercito for campaign overspending.
Comelec records showed Ejercito spent P23.5 million during the campaign, way beyond his authorized campaign limit of P4.5 million or P3 each for 1,525,522 voters.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said the pieces of evidence against Ejercito are all documented.
"In fact, an advertisement contract with ABS-CBN (television network) was worth P6 million and that already exceeded his limit," he said.
BRILLANTES VOWS TO BE FAIR
Meanwhile, Brillantes said the COMELEC is being fair to Ejercito following claims that the Aquino administration is moving to oust the Ejercitos from power.
The commissioner also revealed that COMELEC is currently looking into several other disqualification cases against elected officials due to overspending.
“Bumilis itong kay ER Ejercito dahil may complainant. ‘Yung natalong kandidato, si Egay San Luis, talagang siya ang nakakita kung magkano ang binayad ‘dun sa net worth tapos sinubmit niya rito in a formal complaint.”
Brillantes said that other disqualifications are not rapidly moving forward because COMELEC has not received complaints.
“Meron pong [disqualification cases] pero iba lang ang proseso dahil walang nagko-complain. Kami po mismo ang tumitingin ‘dun sa statement of contribution and expenditures. Kami po mismo ang magcha-charge.”
He also slammed Ejercito’s allegations that the commission denied him due process.
“Ang sinasabi ni [ER], hindi raw siya binigyan ng due process rito, hindi po totoo! Dumaan po siya sa division, nagkaroon ng hearing ang division, ‘nung natalo siya sa division ay nag-file ng motion for reconsideration.”