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Samar recall elections likely to push through

from NAMFREL Election Monitor Vol.2, No.18

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On August 5, 2011, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) signed a ruling dismissing the motion for reconsideration filed by Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan, and her younger brother Vice Governor Stephen James Tan, in connection with the recall petitions filed by concerned registered voters in the province.

One Aurelio Bardaje filed the petition against Gov. Sharee Ann Tan while Elvisa Lopez initiated the petition against Vice-Governor Stephen Tan. The petition against Gov. Tan, which was filed on December 7, 2010, contained 73, 889 signatures of the province’s voters and cited lack of leadership and graft as the reasons for the recall. The petition against Vice-Gov. Tan had 73,250 signatures.

The dismissal of the motion would pave the way for the holding of recall elections in the province. The siblings, however, vowed to to hold their ground and engage in a legal fight with the poll body if the need arises. They claimed that they have already consulted their lawyers on their next moves.

The Comelec en banc previously declared the petitions for recall elections against the Tans sufficient in form and substance. The poll body’s ruling became official on January 12, 2011.

The siblings were reported to have belittled the petitions and the governor claimed that they still have the support of their constituents. They filed their motion for reconsideration on February 23, 2011. Their motion cited that the petitions filed against them are not sufficient in form and substance, and added further that the signatures of voters were obtained by giving out some amount in exchange for signing the petitions.

Samar Provincial Election Supervisor Corazon Montallana said that a copy of the August 5, 2011 en banc resolution will be given to the Tans’ camps at the soonest possible time. “I received a copy of the en banc resolution this Friday, suggesting that the petition for recall against the governor and the vice governor of Samar is sufficient. This means this will continue,” Montallana was quoted as saying in a newspaper report.

The Local Government Code of 1991 provides that “no recall shall take place within one (1) year from the date of the official’s assumption to office or one (1) year immediately preceding a regular local election.” But gathering of signatures which would cause holding of special elections is not prohibited, as pointed out by Comelec regional director Jose Nick Mendros.

This is also the provision that Montallana cited when asked when the recall elections would be held. She further added that the recall elections can also take place one year before another regular election is conducted.

The Comelec is expected to come out with a resolution setting the date for the recall elections.
 
 
 
 
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