Bill aims to withdraw recall process

Posted on June 18, 2012

A MEASURE aiming to repeal the option of voters to oust an erring local official has been filed in the House of Representatives as the system has been allegedly marred by technicalities that have dragged the process.

House Bill No. 6222, authored by Rep. Victorino Dennis M. Socrates (Palawan, 2nd district), aims to remove the recall provision in Republic Act No. 7160, also known as the Local Government Code, citing the difficulty of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in processing cases within the three-year term of local officials.

Sections 69-75 of the law states that preparatory recall assembly members -- officials in the provincial, city, and legislative district level -- or 25% of the registered voters in a local government unit may initiate the recall petition only a year after the concerned official has assumed office. The official can be recalled only once in the term.

"This time frame has proven too short for [Comelec], especially in the event that petitions for recall are filed in a given term, which is almost going to be the case, and considering that the Comelec also has to prepare for the conduct of the ensuing regular elections," Mr. Socrates said in a statement last week.

He then cited Resolution No. 9374 of the Comelec issued in March, wherein actions on all 38 pending recall petitions were halted due to lack of time and finances.

"…[F]or 2012, the budget given to the commission is not enough for the conduct of automated national and local elections… [T]he Commission sees that it is no longer feasible to conduct recall elections at this point in time, considering the aforesaid budgetary constraints and the tedious preparatory activities needed for the conduct of recall elections."

The Comelec declined to comment.

"Officially, Comelec doesn’t really comment on bills of that nature, preferring to leave such matters to the wisdom of the Congress," said James Arthur B. Jimenez, Comelec spokesperson, in a text message, adding that voters can express their loss of confidence only through the recall process. -- M. J. O. Cantilero