MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) Second Division disqualified Legazpi City Mayor Carmen Geraldine Rosal from winning the mayoralty last May due to the cash assistance program allowed amid the election spending ban.
In a 21-page resolution released on Tuesday, the Comelec said it granted the petition for disqualification filed against Rosal.
Petitioner Joseph San Juan Armogila, city councilorship candidate in the 2022 elections, said Rosal gave cash aid to tricycle drivers and senior citizens during the campaign to garner their support for the election, which is seen this as vote buying and a violation of the election spending ban.
In Rosal’s defense, the cash assistance is part of the legitimate programs of the local government unit. He said the pay-outs, which happened on March 31 and April 2 of this year, are a continuation of the previous batches launched even before the campaign period.
But the commission made it clear that they did not find Rosal guilty of ‘vote buying’ because they did not see any connection between the post and the actual giving of money to people by the accused.
However, based on the evidence presented, the poll body acted to determine if the funds used for such social welfare services were authorized by the Comelec.
“It was established that respondent appears to have benefited from the local government unit’s project where public funds were definitely released, disbursed, and spent to sponsor the cash pay-out or assistance to the tricycle drivers and senior citizens,” saad ng Comelec.
“Respondent performed an overt act to make it appear that she is one with local government unit; worse, with her husband, who was then the incumbent mayor at the time of the ‘cash pay-out’ event,” dagdag pa.
Last month, the Comelec First Division also disqualified her husband, Albay Governor Noel Rosal, due to a spending ban involving the same cash assistance program. Jocelyn Tabangcura-Domenden
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