Mt. Province may have caretaker after solon’s demise: Comelec

BAGUIO CITY -– After the demise of Mountain Province Representative Maximo Dalog last June 3, the Lower House may choose to appoint a caretaker for the congressional district if it chooses or have a special election to replace the congressman.

Atty. Julius Torres, Commission on Elections (Comelec)-Cordillera regional director, on Wednesday they are stilsaid l waiting for a formal communication from Congress.

“Congress has yet to declare a vacancy which will lead to the conduct of a special election to fill the vacancy or they can call for a special election,” which is a dictate under Republic Act 6645 or the “Act prescribing the manner of filing a vacancy in the Congress of the Philippines.”

He said the Congress has jurisdiction in deciding the qualification or disqualification of a member of Congress (Lower House) including anything that involves the membership of the chamber.

Once Congress declares a vacancy and opts for the conduct of a special election, the Comelec can hold it 45 days after the declaration of a vacancy or not later than 90 days after the declaration.

Under the mentioned law, Torres said it can be held to coincide with a general election. The barangay election is set in October 2017.

As of today, the local election, he said, is still a go, as the commission has not yet received a formal communication from Congress postponing or cancelling the barangay election. “We continue to prepare for the barangay election,” he said.

While in session, the Congress can appoint a caretaker. During a recess, Speaker of the House, Congressman Pantaleon Alvarez can appoint a caretaker but will have to communicate the appointment to Comelec EnBanc, who will inform the Cordillera office of the Comelec.

Torres mentioned of a previous incident in 2008 when former Mountain Province Congressman Victor Dominguez died while holding the position. The vacancy was filled up by Congress by appointing then Kalinga congressman Manuel Agyao as caretaker.

In appointing a caretaker, the congressional district nearest the place has to be named. The nearest congressional districts are Ifugao, Kalinga and Benguet.

Torres clarified that as of today, the information that a special election will be held in Mountain Province remains a rumor and has no truth.

Ifugao Representative Teodoro Baguilat as well as Benguet Representative Ronald Cosalan are both members of the Liberal Party. Kalinga Representative Allen Jesse Mangaoang also filed his candidacy as Liberal Party member. The congressman cannot be contacted to know whether he remains as a member of the party or has transferred to another political party.

Mountain Province experienced two deaths – then incumbent Governor Leonard Mayaen, an independent candidate, died before the May 2016 election. His daughter Atty. Kathy Jill Mayaen filed as replacement and was proclaimed as governor following the May 16 election.

However, a Petition to Annul the proclamation was filed and is still pending before the Comelec en banc. To allow the province’s affairs to continue, the Comelec issued an injunction and named winning vice governor Bonifacio Lacwasan as acting governor who was clothed with the full powers of a governor. Liza T. Agoot/