The Commission on Elections en banc affirmed Friday the disqualification of Legazpi Mayor Carmen Geraldine Rosal from running in the May 2022 elections.
In a resolution dated May 4, 2023, the Comelec en banc found Rosal accountable for "giving money to influence, induce or corrupt voters in violation of Section 68 (a) of the Omnibus Election Code."
It said the mayor did not deny that she was present during a 2-day tricycle drivers' cash assistance payout in May.
The poll body said it found it sufficient to conclude that Rosal was among those who gave the cash assistance.
The Comelec instead proclaimed second-placer Alfredo Garbin Jr. as the duly elected Mayor.
The Comelec Second Division earlier granted a petition to disqualifyRosal from running in the May 2022 elections for benefitting from the illegal disbursement of public funds during the campaign period.
The Comelec Division said Rosal participated in the release of cash assistance to tricycle drivers and senior citizens with her then-mayor husband Noel Rosal.
While the Comelec did not hold Rosal liable for vote buying, it found her liable for the prohibition against disbursement of public funds on social welfare services during the campaign period.
The Division said the local government unit did not file a petition before the Clerk of the Commission for the issuance of a certificate of exception for social welfare projects intended to be implemented within the prohibited period.
It also cited “indispensable cooperation” to establish Rosal’s participation even if she was only a candidate at that time and not a public official, pointing out posts on Facebook that made it appear that the distribution event or cash assistance payout was a sponsored event by certain candidates, including Rosal.
The Division also cited statements from recipient tricycle drivers who believed that the cash assistance came from the respondent.
The Comelec First Division also earlier disqualified her husband who won as Albay governor, for a public spending ban violation, with Joseph San Juan Armogila also serving as the petitioner.