Rosal hopes Comelec to reverse ruling on his DQ case

By Rhaydz B. Barcia


LEGAZPI CITY --- Embattled Albay Governor Noel Rosal is hoping that the Commission on Elections En Banc will reverse the decision earlier issued by the poll body’s first division on his disqualification case.


Comelec 1st Division has disqualified Rosal from the 2022 provincial race for violating the 45-day ban following the release of public funds by government agencies for social welfare projects following the cash assistance payout to senior citizens in March and tricycle drivers in April.


“This [disqualification case] is part of political exercise and the project we have implemented was part of the city government’s continuing program for the senior citizens and tricycle drivers wherein we provided them with financial assistance because of pandemic. We are implementing such program even without an election. It’s in the pipeline even before the implementation of the campaign period. We cannot stop the delivery of such assistance to them as identified beneficiaries just because it was an election time,” he maintained.


Rosal disqualification case was filed by Joseph San Juan Armogila, who ran for councilor under the ticket of Ako Bicol party-list. Armogila lost in the May 9, 2022 local elections.


“My conscience is clear. I didn’t violate any law. As your new governor, I’m working hard, pursuing remarkable reforms to address the pressing issues affecting the communities like the Sula Channel environmental destruction, and unregulated quarry operations. I am also working to upgrade the physical and operational aspect of our hospital upgrade to provide better services to the people especially the poor,” Rosal said.


Rosal said that many politicians were using the national government programs of DSWD and DOLE for their own political advancement but he remained silent because it is the public who is benefiting from the program.


‘It’s not hidden to you that there are politicians who used such programs of the said national government agencies. They took advantage of these programs but we opted to keep mum on it because it is for the welfare of our people. The financial assistance we extended to the program’s identified beneficiaries was approved by the Sangguniang Panlungsod long before the election time,” he said.


“The disqualification case filed against me is political in nature. I see it as a move by a political group which can be traced to the political affiliation of the petitioner. The person who filed the case belongs to the opposition party. He was in the political slate of former Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr.” he said.


Garbin ran for mayoral post in Legazpi City but lost to Rosal’s wife, Geraldine Rosal, in the May 9, 2022 elections.


“My only apprehension was that , if there is politics behind this case because the petitioner Joseph San Juan Armogila, ran for councilor under the Ako Bicol. The Ako Bicol partylist is holding a powerful position occupying key positions in Congress, handling the budget, all offices of the government pass through them because of the budget,” he said.


This reporter tried to get the side of Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Elizaldy “Zaldy” S. Co regarding the statement of Noel Rosal implicating Ako Bicol on his case but the lawmaker didn’t reply.


“This is serious, I just hope that the Comelec will really look into the case objectively. I hope our COMELEC commissioners will look into this case thoroughly and that will not affect the Albayanos. I hope that the decision will not only favor Rosal but to favor the Albayanos. If there is an outside force, this will be unfair to us,” the new governor said.


Rosal was given for five days to submit his appeal for motion for reconsideration which he submitted on Friday (September 23). “I will never forget this challenge when I retire from public office. This will make me stronger,” Rosal said.


Rosal admitted that the disqualification case file against him will hamper or affect his programs and reform instituted as new governor of Albay due to other preparation he needs to do pertaining to the case he is facing.


“I am hoping that the decision of the Comelec En Banc commissioners will favor our case. We will wait for the decision,” he said. When asked if the Comelec En Banc decision will not favor him, Rosal said that he will respect the verdict but he will bring the case to the Supreme Court as the final arbiter.


For embattled governor Noel Rosal, the Supreme Court is his last bastion of hope. Rosal hoped to repeat the victory in 2004 when former Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban decided in favor of Rosal’s case filed by his political opponent mayoral candidate Michael Imperial.


“We hope with God’s grace, we can get it to the Supreme Court. I hope that history repeats itself just like in 2004 (18) years ago. Because if you will remember in 2004, I lost in the electoral protest before the Comelec En Banc. We appeal it to the Supreme Court. When our appeal reached the Supreme Court and was read by then Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, he issued the motu proprio. In just six days, Chief Justice Panganiban issued a status quo ante order because he found a discrepancy. That is history because the result there was used as the landmark case and is used as Rosal doctrine. That is the same jurisprudence used in the case of Senators Juan Zubiri and Coco Pimentel case.