Elections in SouthCot’s 1st district may be postponed due to reconfiguration of legislative districts

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 5 Apr) – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Region 12 is bracing for the possible suspension of the voting on May 13 for the first district representative of South Cotabato in the wake of its reconfiguration into two legislative districts.

Lawyer Rafael Dinopol, Comelec-12 public information officer, said Friday the commission en banc is currently conducting deliberations on the matter in line with the crafting of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for Republic Act (RA) 11243, which reapportioned the first district of South Cotabato.

The new law, which was signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte last March 11, established the city as the province’s third legislative district.

As of Friday morning, Dinopol said they have not yet received a resolution from the Comelec en banc regarding the poll suspension.

But he said the area’s case was similar to that of the lone congressional district of Southern Leyte, which was divided into two districts by virtue of RA 11198.

The Comelec en banc, through Resolution 10513, suspended the voting on May 13 and will instead hold special elections for the two districts within six months.

“Most likely, there is a big chance that the election for the first district (of South Cotabato) will also be suspended based on the case of Southern Leyte,” Dinopol said in an interview over radio station Brigada News FM here.

Citing the provisions of RA 11243, Dinopol said the Comelec was mandated to craft its IRR within 30 days upon its effectivity.

Since it was signed by the President last March 11, he said the required 15-day publication in the Official Gazette was completed last March 26 and formally took effect.

Once the Comelec issues its IRR, it will be published for 15 days by its information system department and then enforce its provisions.

“We expect that it will be issued anytime this week or next week,” Dinopol said.

Under RA 11243, this city will constitute the third district of South Cotabato while the towns of Polomolok, Tupi and Tampakan will remain under the first district.

Three candidates, all residents of this city, are vying for the first district seat – outgoing Vice Mayor Shirlyn Nograles of the People’s Champ Movement-PDP Laban, former city councilor and lawyer Arturo Cloma of the Achiever’s with Integrity Movement, and lawyer Clemencia Dinopol-Cataluña, who is running as an independent.

Cloma and Cataluña said they already expected the possible suspension of the voting for the first district on May 13.

“I already anticipated that. It’s also the reason why I slowed down with my campaign,” Cloma said.

Cataluña said she has scheduled caucuses with her supporters to properly explain to them the possible scenarios.

But Nograles said she will just continue with her campaign sorties until the Comelec issues a resolution on the matter.

“There’s no decision yet from the Comelec. I’m urging everybody to just wait for that,” she said. (MindaNews)