The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has disqualified Laguna governor E.R. Ejercito for overspending during the campaign of the May elections.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez made the announcement through his Twitter account. He said it was the COMELEC's 1st Division that handed down the decision.
In an interview on ANC, Jimenez said Ejercito spent over P6-million in television ads alone, well above the P4.5-million he is allowed to spend as a candidate for governor.
Under COMELEC Resolution No. 9615, a candidate can spend only P3 for every registered voter in his constituency. Laguna has around 1.5 million registered voters in the May 13, 2013 elections.
Jimenez also said the decision is not yet executory as Ejercito has 5 days to comment on the COMELEC's ruling. If and when Ejercito files a motion for reconsideration, the COMELEC en banc would discuss the case and hand down a decision that would be final and executory.
He said if the COMELEC decision is upheld and Ejercito is unseated, Vice Governor Ramil Hernandez will take his place.
In a press release, COMELEC chair Sixto Brillantes said Ejercito's disqualification "shows the COMELEC's resolve to level the playing field in the electoral process. Hindi po kami nagbibiro," Brillantes said.
In a statement released to media, Ejercito stressed that the COMELEC's decision is not final and executory and that he is entitled to file a motion for reconsideration. He said that pending the resolution of the case, "I will remain to be governor of the province of Laguna."
"As to the merits or demerits of the case, I will leave that to my lawyers. I just hope and pray that evil politics is not behind all these," he said.
Ejercito also expressed his "full trust and confidence" in the COMELEC. "In the end, justice will prevail and the truth will come out."
Ejercito ran under the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) against Edgar San Luis of President Aquino's Liberal Party (LP). Despite the President's endorsement, San Luis lost to Ejercito.
In February, Aquino took a swipe at Ejercito in a speech before Laguna residents, saying a high official in the province came late to a meeting at the Palace on flood mitigation projects for Laguna Lake.
But in August, the two seemed to have set aside their differences to help residents affected by massive flooding in the province.