DAET, Camarines Norte --- The post of vice governor in Camarines Norte is in a vacuum after the Commission on Elections rejected the proclamation of incumbent Vice Governor Jonah Pedro G. Pimentel whose certificate of candidacy (CoC) has been cancelled due to term limit.
The second division of the Commission on Election has ordered the cancellation of Vice Governor Pimentel’s CoC last May 10, 2019 after it was found out that he was no longer eligible to run for the same post as it would be his fourth term to be serving as such. All elective local officials, including congressmen, are only allowed to serve for three consecutive terms.
Pimentel, a political ally and running mate of Gov. Edgardo Tallado whose CoC incidentally was also cancelled by Comelec for similar reason, has been elected as vice governor of Camarines Norte from 2010 to 2013, then from 2013 to 2016 and 2016 unto 2019, or three consecutive terms. His proclamation after this year’s election, if ever, would allow him to serve an illegal fourth term.
Pimentel, however, went on to file his certificate of candidacy as Tallado’s running mate under PDP-Laban despite having allegedly served his last term as vice governor.
Commissioners Luie Tito F. Guia (second division presiding commissioner), Socorro B. Inting and Antonio T. Kho, Jr. ordered the cancellation of Pimentel’s CoC a few days leading to the midterm polls.
The commissioners also ordered the suspension of proclamation of Pimentel as vice governor of Camarines Norte in the event that he received plurality of votes during the May 13, 2019 gubernatorial election.
Suspension of Pimentel’s proclamation becomes effective until further orders from this commission, the commissioners stated.
“The provincial election supervisor in Camarines Norte is hereby directed to immediately serve the order to Pimentel and the provincial board of canvassers (RPOC) of Camarines Norte,” the commissioners said.
Pimentel garnered 121,000 votes against his political rival, outgoing Jose Panganiban Mayor Ricarte Padilla who had mustered 120,000 votes.
On Election Day, Pimentel’s certificate of candidacy was cancelled by the Commission on Elections rendering Padilla as the sole candidate in the vice gubernatorial race.
Both Pimentel’s and Gov. Tallado’s certificates of candidacy were cancelled by the Commission on Election as the duo, under the local government code and the 1987 Philippine Constitution, are deemed no longer eligible to run in an election for the same position.
On May 9, 2019, the Comelec en banc ruled and declared Gov. Tallado ineligible to run for governor of Camarines Norte in the May 13, 2019 local election.
The commission ruled that Tallado fully served his three consecutive terms as governor of Camarines Norte and thus the three-term limit rule should apply to him.
But Tallado managed to get a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Supreme Court (SC) last May 10, 2019, two days before the midterm 2019 polls.
When the votes were finally counted, re-electionist Tallado runs won over his rival, former Camarines Norte Rep. Catherine “Cathy” Barcelona-Reyes.
Outgoing Jose Panganiban Town Mayor Padilla accuses Tallado and Pimentel of perpetuating their power even after their terms limits have expired. “They wanted to cling on to their power eternally,” Padilla says.
Following the cancelation of Pimentel’s CoC with due course, Padilla for his part filed a motion before the Commission on Elections to proclaim him as vice governor of Camarines Norte being the only qualified candidate for the post.