Comelec halts proclamation of Erwin Tulfo as party-list nominee

MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has suspended the proclamation of former Social Welfare and Development Secretary Erwin Tulfo as ACT-CIS party-list’s nominee next-in-line.

In a statement released on Wednesday evening, the poll body said the seven-man panel decided to suspend the proclamation after receiving a petition seeking to disqualify the group’s nominee next-in-line late last month.

“In its Regular Meeting today, March 1, 2023, the Commission on Elections en banc resolved to suspend the proclamation of Mr. Erwin P. Tulfo, nominee next-in-line of ACT-CIS Party-List Group in view of the filing of a Petition for Disqualification against him on February 28, 2023,” it said.

The petition filed by lawyer Moises Tolentino Jr. seeks Tulfo's disqualification on allegations pertaining to "question of citizenship" and "conviction by final judgment of a crime involving moral turpitude".

The petition was docketed by the Clerk of the Commission, was taken cognizance by the Commission under Sections 1 to 5 of Rule 5 of Comelec Resolution No. 9366.

Accordingly, under Section 8 of said Rule 5 of Resolution No. 9366, the proclamation of a nominee may be suspended notwithstanding the fact that the group or organization received the winning number of votes in such elections, if the evidence in the petition for disqualification is strong and such remains unresolved.

The Comelec said the petition is scheduled to be raffled to a division for hearing on March 6.

Earlier, the House of Representatives (HOR) informed the Commission it has accepted the resignation of Jeffrey Soriano of the ACT-CIS Party-list on Feb. 22, 2023.

“In view of the foregoing, may we request that a Resolution be issued by the Commission on Elections proclaiming the nominee next-in-line based on the list submitted by the ACT-CIS Party-list,” said the letter signed by Reginald Velasco, Secretary General of the HOR addressed to Comelec chairman George Garcia dated Feb. 22, 2023.

“The resolution is required in order for the House of Representatives to admit the nominee of the party-list into the Roll of Members of the 19th Congress,” he added.

In his eight-page petition, Tolentino is seeking to disqualify the respondent for his failure to possess all the qualifications of a candidate/nominee for the position of party-list representative, as provided for by the Constitution and existing laws.

He noted that aside from the citizenship and conviction issues, Tulfo is not qualified for the post as he is deemed to have withdrawn his nomination after accepting the appointment as Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) which he served for several months.

“It must be recalled that on June 20, 2022 Respondent took his oath as DSWD Secretary before President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. Consequently, his acceptance of the nomination and subsequent assumption of the position as a member of the Cabinet, ipso facto results in the withdrawal of his nomination as the fourth nominee of the ACT-CIS Party-List,” the petitioner said.

“As a result of the withdrawal of his nomination, Respondent cannot be re-nominated by ACT-CIS or any other party. Section 1 of Comelec Resolution No. 10717 expressly provides that “(a) nominee who withdraws his acceptance to the nomination shall not be eligible for re-nomination by the same party or nomination by other parties," he added.

The group has obtained the highest number of votes for the party-list elections, securing them three seats in the 19th Congress.

The nominees are Edvic Go Yap (first nominee), Jocelyn Tulfo (second nominee), Jeffrey Soriano (third nominee), Erwin Tulfo (fourth nominee) and Effie Vanessa Ynson (fifth nominee). (PNA)

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