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Court affirms Comelec ruling denying Almazan, Lazo run for batch posts

The Judiciary Branch of the University Student Government, in its ruling issued last March 12, denied a petition for judicial review by Calvin Almazan and Ma. Bianca Lazo of Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat) against the DLSU Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The Court upheld a prior decision by Comelec that turned down the petitioners’ candidacies in the 2021 Make-Up Elections due to failure to submit certain documents. Almazan and Lazo would have run for BLAZE2022 President and Legislative Assembly Representative, respectively.

The Judiciary also ordered the resumption of the elections for the said positions, which it had earlier suspended while the case was awaiting resolution.

The March 12 session was the third in a series of proceedings, following the oral arguments and interpellation of the petitioners last March 9 and of the respondents on March 10.

No merit

The Judiciary considered seven legal issues in the case, including among others whether Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion due to grossly misinterpreting facts, whether it violated due process, whether it exhibited negligence, and whether Tapat’s certificate of candidacy (COC) representative—who was the one tasked by the party to submit the required documents—faced force majeure or an unforeseeable circumstance that prevented them from complying with obligations

According to the tribunal, the petition had no merit. The Court said it was unconvinced that Comelec showed grave abuse of discretion and that the petitioners were deprived of due process.

The written verdict penned by Deputy Chief Magistrate Andre Miranda pointed out that Comelec had properly followed the provisions in the Online Election Code and in its memorandum of agreement with the political parties.

It also dismissed the claim that the poll body was negligent in failing to immediately inform Tapat of any issues in the party’s submitted documents. It maintained that the commission’s document tracking system (DTS) served as adequate notice for Tapat, who was shown to have benefitted from its use in other instances. “The Court cannot selectively apply the validity of the DTS to those who used and benefited from it from those who did not,” the ruling read.

The Judiciary also recognized that Tapat’s COC representative did face force majeure. But it also said that only the COC representative was excused from their duties and that the rest of Tapat was not: other members of the party could have submitted the documents. “We cannot allow the internal bureaucracy of political parties to shape our jurisprudence,” the judicial body declared.

The Court gave the petitioners 10 working days to file for a motion for reconsideration. Almazan, however, stated in his personal Facebook account soon after the decision hearing that he and Lazo “wholeheartedly” accept the Judiciary’s ruling.

By Warren Chua

By Chloe Novenario

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