Comelec cancels Oct. 26 special polls in SouthCot; prepares for Banas-Nograles proclamation

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 01 October) — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has cancelled the scheduled special elections on Oct. 26 for the newly-reconfigured first and third legislative districts of South Cotabato province and this city.

Lawyer Rafael Dinopol, spokesperson of Comelec-Region 12, said Tuesday the move was in line with the Supreme Court (SC) decision issued last Sept. 10 that declared null and void a Comelec resolution that scrapped the elections in the first district of South Cotabato last May 13.

He said the commission 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 the decision in a meeting last Sept. 25.

Comelec will proceed with the proclamation of Nograles as winning candidate “after the finality” of the SC decision.

It directed Comelec executive director Jose Tolentino Jr, and deputy executive director for operations Bartolome Sinocruz Jr. to “prepare the mecahnism procedure in connection with the proclamation” of Nograles.

The Commission on Elections is now preparing for the proclamation of Shirllyn Banas-Nograles as winner in the congressional race for the first district of South Cotabato. Photo posted on her FB page

Dinopol explained that Comelec central office is only waiting for the 15-day period for the filing of motion for consideration to lapse before making the next move.

The decision was officially released by the high court 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.

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 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.

Nograles eventually topped the polls in the first district with 194,929 votes or 68.55 percent of the 284,351 votes cast but she was not proclaimed after Comelec declared them as stray. (MindaNews)