SC Affirms Victory of La Union Lady Solon

AGOO, La Union – The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed the victory of La Union Second District Representative Sandra Young Eriguel after it dismissed the petition filed by a resident against  the Commission on Elections upholding the candidacy of the lady solon during the May 2016 elections.
It can be recalled that the Comelec’s first division presided by Commissioner Christian Robert Lim denied the petition of Paulino Nonan to cancel the Certificate of Candidacy of then Mayor Sandra Eriguel, due to issues on her citizenship.
The SC junked the petition for certiorari filed by Nonan questioning Eriguel’s candidacy and qualifications.
The Comelec’s decision cited that the Commission (first division) has no authority to resolve the issue on Eriguel’s status whether she is a natural born citizen or not.  The Comelec eventually resolved to dismiss the petition.
Eriguel maintained that she did not make false representation in her COC as she is a natural born citizen of the Philippines and that she possesses all the qualifications to be elected as member of the House of Representatives.
Eriguel, wife of former Rep. Franny Eriguel, was successively elected mayor of Agoo in 2007, 2010 and 2013.
The SC stated that it dismissed the petition because the petitioner failed to show that the respondent (Comelec) committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess in jurisdiction when in its February 15, 2017 resolution, it dismissed for lack of jurisdiction petitioner’s petition to deny due course to or cancel certificate of candidacy of Eriguel.
SC said Eriguel had won in the elections, had been proclaimed, had taken her oath and assumed office as member of the House of Representatives.
“It is jurisprudentially settled that once a winning candidate had been proclaimed, taken her oath, and assumed office, the Comelec’s jurisdiction over election contests relating to her election, returns, and qualifications ends, and the HRET’s [House of Representative Electoral Tribunal] own jurisdiction begins,” the high court noted.
The SC ruling stated that the Comelec did not commit any grave abuse of discretion when it declared that it had already lost jurisdiction over the case when during the pendency thereof, respondent had been elected a member of the House.
The high court also said that the proper authority to resolve the question on respondent’s qualifications is the HRET.
Under Article VI, Section 17 of the Constitution, the Senate and the House shall each have an electoral tribunal which shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of their respective members.
Eriguel is the current chair of the Committee on Health at the House of Representatives. Jun Elias/