Comelec 2nd division disqualifies Legazpi mayor for spending ban violation

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 04 2022 06:10 PM

The Commission on Elections Second Division has granted a petition to disqualify Legazpi Mayor Carmen Geraldine Rosal 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. 
“We cannot help but conclude that as far as the public in general is concerned, there is direct attribution to the Respondent of the cash pay-out masked as social welfare project,” the Comelec Second Division said.

“Respondent performed an overt act to make it appear that she is one with the Local Government Unit; worse, with her husband, who was then the incumbent mayor at the time of the ‘cash pay-out event. Her mere presence during the distribution of the cash assistance rendered moral assistance to the Local Government Unit. Lest it be forgotten, she is a candidate at that time, along with her husband. The rule on circumstantial evidence necessarily requires that each circumstance must be positively established with the requisite quantum of evidence, in the same manner that the catena that binds them together and conduces to a conclusion of guilt must survive the test of reason and satisfy the required evidentiary weight. Here, there is no doubt in Our minds that herein Respondent committed acts which violate the law—sufficient to disqualify her from running as a candidate in the 2022 elections," it said.

The Resolution was signed by Presiding Commissioner Marlon Casquejo and Commissioner Rey Bulay.

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.

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