Why ER Ejercito was disqualified

Posted at 05/22/14 11:56 PM

MANILA - The Commission on Elections' (Comelec) decision to disqualify Laguna Governor Emilio Ramon "ER" Ejercito was based on concrete evidence, the poll body's top official said Thursday.

In an interview on dzMM, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said it is the commission's duty to look into election violations, whoever the candidate may be.

He also said Ejercito's disqualification case was already decided last September, and they needed time to review the case.

Brillantes said the evidence from the complainant who filed the case against Ejercito made it easier for the commission to investigate and decide on the case.

"Yung kay ER, bumilis lang yan kasi may complainant, nagprisinta siya ng ebidensya. Ayoko lang po 'yung sinasabi na may politika. Wala po kaming pinipiling partido," he said, dismissing claims that the administration is removing members of the Ejercito clan from power.

This, after Senator JV Ejercito claimed that recent events involving members of his clan seem to be part of a "concerted effort from the administration probably to remove the Ejercitos or Estradas."

Brillantes said it took the Comelec en banc 8 months to review the decision on Ejercito's case, but it was not because of lack of evidence.

He said Comelec commissioners debated on who would be governor of Laguna once Ejercito steps down.

"Matagal ang debate on who to succeed, kung yung vice-governor, o yung complainant," he said.

Brillantes also explained that even without a complainant, the Comelec has the power to disqualify any candidate or politician who commits an election violation.

"Maski walang complainant, basta nag-overspending, pwede namin siyang i-disqualify."

Edgar San Luis of the Liberal Party first filed the petition for disqualification against Ejercito, saying the latter was allowed to spend only P4.5 million or P3 for each of the 1,525,522 voters in Laguna.

The Comelec noted that Ejercito paid P6 million for just one advertising contract, which exceeded the poll spending cap.

The Comelec said that based on records, Ejercito spent P23,563,365 for his entire campaign.

Brillantes said that San Luis did not directly say that Ejercito overspent in his campaign, but the investigation proved that he did.

"In this case, yung complainant, sinabi na hindi niya sigurado kung nag-overspend, pero sa computation namin, nag-overspend siya. So sabi namin, disqualified ka na."

He added that the Campaign Finance Law limits the amount of money that can be used in an election campaign, regardless of the source of funds.

"Dapat alam niya that the limitation is on the expense, not the amount that came from his pocket. He is a legitimate candidate, ibinoto siya ng taong bayan, siya naman talaga ang elected na gobernador ng Laguna, but despite his election, hindi naman siya pwedeng suwayin ang batas ng election. Kapag sinuway mo yan, you will be liable for disqualification, as in this case," Brillantes said.

Ejercito is claiming that the money used in his campaign came from donations.

Ejercito was given 5 days to file a motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) before the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of the Comelec decision.