Comelec: Power to call for NegOr special polls belongs to House

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 9) — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it is waiting for further instructions from the House of Representatives after it cancelled the Dec. 9 special elections in the third district of Negros Oriental following the passage of a House resolution seeking to postpone it.

“We are going to wait for any instruction from the House of Representatives since this is a membership issue,” Comelec chairman George Garcia told CNN Philippines’ The Source on Thursday.

Garcia noted that the power to call for special elections belongs to Congress.

On Wednesday, Garcia said the lower chamber passed House Resolution 154 that recalled an earlier resolution calling for the conduct of a special election in the third district of Negros Oriental. 

The seat was left vacant after the House expelled Arnolfo Teves Jr. for his “disorderly behavior and for violation of the Code of Conduct of the House of Representatives.” He has refused to return to the country amid accusations of orchestrating the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo.

Among the reasons cited by lawmakers for the scrapping of the special elections was the number of pending disqualification cases.

Garcia said of the 120 pending cases across the country, 20 are in Central Visayas, of which only two are in the third district of Negros Oriental involving newly elected barangay councilors. The poll body aims to resolve all these before the end of the month.

Garcia also said ₱75 million was allocated for the special elections which was sourced from the agency’s savings. The budget will now be used for the construction of Comelec’s provincial offices, he said.