Citing inconsistencies in the law, the City Council here has urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to reconsider the postponement of the May 13 election for the first legislative district representative of South Cotabato province and this city.
In an urgent resolution unanimously approved during Tuesday’s regular session, the legislative body asked the Comelec en banc to proceed with the election as scheduled and resolve the questions involving some provisions of Republic Act (RA) 11243 and its implementing rules and regulations (IRR).
RA 11243, signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on March 11, reapportioned the first district of South Cotabato and established the city as the province’s third district.
The Comelec en banc, through Resolution 10524 or the IRR issued last April 11, postponed the election for the first district representative on May 13 and set the first regular election for the representatives of the two new districts within six months.
City Councilor Ramon Milleza, who introduced the resolution, said there is a need for Congress to iron out the provisions of RA 11243 as it is contrary to the provisions of RA 9649, the amended city charter.
Milleza said the city should have a separate legislative seat in the House of Representatives, being an independent locality. He pointed out that the new law created a lone district for the city but it remained as the third district of South Cotabato province.
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.
“We’ve been an independent city since 1968 and have not been voting for officials of South Cotabato. The provisions of our city charter (were) not followed and this should be addressed first,” he said.
Milleza, who is a lawyer, said the IRR does not also give justice to residents of the city and even the first district of South Cotabato.
He said RA 11243 provided that the reconfiguration will take effect in the next local elections, “meaning in 2022 and not (on May 13).”
“The candidates have already spent money for the campaign and made the necessary preparations. That’s also the same for the Comelec. The government can save money by pushing through with the election,” he said.
City Councilor Jose Edmar Yumang, who is also a lawyer, noted that the new law only took effect on April 4 or six days after the start of the local campaign period.
“By then, the local election period has already started,” Yumang noted.
The councilor said Section 2 of RA 11243 provided for the holdover tenure of the incumbent representative of the first district, but the IRR cited that the term will end on June 30.
He said the provisions of the IRR would create a vacuum for the area’s representation and could affect scheduled legislations and projects.
“The IRR should be consistent with the law that it is implementing. But in this case, it conflicted with the provision on the holdover capacity,” he said.
Three candidates 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 Achievers with Integrity Movement, and lawyer Clemencia Dinopol-Cataluña who is running as an independent. (PNA)