The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has canceled the scheduled special elections on Oct. 26 for the newly-reconfigured first and third legislative districts of South Cotabato province.
Lawyer Rafael Dinopol, spokesperson of Comelec-Region twelve, said Tuesday the move was in line with the Supreme Court (SC) decision issued last Sept. 10 that declared as null and void a Comelec resolution that scrapped the elections in the first district of South Cotabato last May 13.
Dinopol said the poll body decided it will no longer contest the SC ruling and proceed with the proclamation of former city vice mayor Shirlyn Banas-Nograles as the winning representative of the first district of South Cotabato and this city.
In a memorandum from the office of the Comelec secretary released on Monday, the commission en banc made such decision in a meeting last Sept. 25.
The Comelec said it will proceed with the proclamation of Nograles as winning candidate “after the finality” of the SC decision.
It also directed Comelec Executive Director Jose Tolentino Jr. and Deputy Executive Director for Operations Bartolome Sinocruz Jr. to “prepare the mechanism procedure in connection with the proclamation” of Nograles.
Dinopol said that the Comelec central office is only waiting for the 15-day period for the filing of a motion for consideration to lapse before making the next move.
The decision was officially released by the SC on September 19.
“Anytime soon, we expect the Comelec en banc to release the guidelines (for the proclamation of Nograles),” he said in a radio interview.
In particular, he cited the dispositive portion of the SC decision that directed the Comelec to convene a special provincial board of canvassers to facilitate Nograles’ proclamation.
Dinopol said the proclamation may be conducted in the city or in Manila, depending on the Comelec guidelines.
Comelec suspended the polls for the first district of South Cotabato last April 11 through Resolution 10524.
The poll suspension came a month after President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed Republic Act RA 11243, which reapportioned the first district of South Cotabato and created a separate legislative district for the city.
It instead scheduled the conduct of special elections for the two new districts six months after the May 13 elections. (PNA)