SC backs Comelec recognition of Koko's group as legitimate PDP-Laban leaders

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 16 2019 11:30 AM

MANILA – The Supreme Court has upheld the Commission on Elections' recognition of Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III’s group as the legitimate officers of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban) following a squabble over which group rightfully represents the ruling party.

In a minute resolution dated June 18, 2019 released Tuesday, the high court said the PDP Laban faction led by Rogelio Garcia failed to show the poll body committed grave abuse of discretion in declaring the sworn information update statement (SIUS) and list of authorized signatories filed by Pimentel to be the legitimate and official SIUS and list of PDP Laban for the May 2019 elections.

“As correctly found by the Comelec, without a direct challenge questioning the legitimacy of the group of Senator Pimentel as the officers of PDP Laban, and a consequent adverse ruling by the Comelec against such officers, it must continue to recognize them as the legitimate officers authorized to act for and in behalf of PDP Laban,” the Court said.

“Necessarily, the Comelec must recognize the SIUS and the List submitted by such officers,” it added, clarifying that the ruling does not bar a direct challenge by Garcia’s faction questioning the legitimacy of Pimentel’s group before the Comelec.

Both the Pimentel and Garcia factions submitted their own SIUS and list of authorized signatories to Comelec last year.

The Garcia camp claimed PDP Laban elected a new set of officers during the party’s national assembly on July 27, 2018.

In a November 28, 2018 ruling, Comelec chose to recognize the submission by Pimentel’s group, citing the absence of any case before the poll body questioning the legitimate status of Pimentel’s group to determine which among the two groups comprise the legitimate officers of PDP Laban.

Instead, the Commission relied on the June 2016 updated list of party officials submitted by PDP Laban which showed Pimentel as the president of the party and President Rodrigo Duterte as the chairman.

It also said Pimentel was the one authorized to submit the list of authorized signatories for the party for the 2016 polls, he signed the certificate of nomination and acceptance, and he also filed a petition before the Comelec to register an additional party short name, logo, among other matters.

“[T]he Commission still maintains its recognition of the officers of the Pimentel Group as PDP Laban’s legitimate officers authorized to act for and in behalf of PDP Laban. Consequently, the SIUS and List of Authorized Signatories filed by the Pimentel Group are the legitimate and official SIUS and List of Authorizes Signatories of PDP Laban for the May 13, 2019 National Elections,” the poll body said.