A critical crossroads for Comelec

Impartial arbiter or proactive advocate of popular will and equal opportunity.

Sometimes the dividing line between two tough choices can be difficult, if not impossible, to define, much less affirm, uphold, and enforce.

And the agency and authority tasked for this mission is faced with the moral dilemma in the proper execution of its mandate.

Either way the agency chooses, the outcome of its decision must be a win-win for all parties – including itself, displacing no sector, participant, and player in the electoral process.

The hard reality that the state poll body must face is that it is no one else’s call but its own – it is, after all, an exclusive, specific, and special power vested to the Comelec by the Constitution.

The Commission on Election’s  appears set to make history in one of the country’s historic cities – Dr. Jose Rizal’s second home, Dapitan.

For one, the COMELEC may be set to put an end to one of the longest reigning political dynasties in the country- the Jalosjoses of Zamboanga del Norte. On the other hand, the COMELEC can make history by actually putting a Jalosjos in power for another three years while depriving the people of Dapitan City the right to choose the leader who would occupy the seat at the city hall.

As to which history the COMELEC would make all depends on how it would rule on the appeal filed by one of the contenders before the Commission En Banc.

PedXing learned that, mayoralty candidate Evelyn Uy has mounted a serious challenge against incumbent Dapitan City mayor Rosalina Jalosjos-Johnson, sibling of her more famous brothers Cesar and Romeo. The two appear to be out of the political scene – at least for the meantime – following major setbacks in recent elections.

Jalosjos-Johnson is said to be not taking Uy’s challenge lightly. She should not. The Jalosjos political clan has suffered political defeat in the hands of the Uys in the past. Local pundits say Jalosjos-Johnson if she is to keep what appears to be the last stronghold of the famous local political clan. Evelyn has already defeated a Jalosjos in a previous election via a landslide. The view among Zamboanga del Norte political observers is that she is capable of duplicating that feat in the contest for the Dapitan City mayoral seat.

Jalosjos-Johnson, however, appears to have put one over on Evelyn Uy. It was learned that the former managed to obtain a resolution from the local COMELEC saying that her rival Evelyn allegedly lacked the residency requirement to run for Dapitan City Mayor. It was initially a pyrrhic victory for Jalosjos-Johnson after Uy obtained a ruling from the Regional Trial Court of Dipolog City declaring that she is eligible and qualified to run and that she has met the residency criterion.

Now, that issue is back before the COMELEC. One division had earlier favored Jalosjos-Johnson in this row. Uy has since then brought the matter up before the Commission En Banc. The entire body would now get to have the final say on the matter.

Now, all eyes are on the COMELEC En Banc and are awaiting its move. Whichever way it decides, it would definitely be historic in proportion. Will the En Banc rule in favor of Uy and put Jalosjos-Johnson’s bid under serious risk?

Or, would the En Banc instead opt to put the freedom of the people of Dapitan City at serious risk by disqualifying Uy and removing the last obstacle to the Jalosjos clan’s bid to keep its hold on the historic city?

The resolution of this issue would be historic not just for the COMELEC but also for the people of Dapitan City itself. Their future rests on the outcome of the electoral battle – or of the deliberation by the En Banc.

It is interesting that while the city has earned its place in history books, it has yet to land in the list of the country’s fast growing or most competitive chartered cities. Despite its fame, it has remained a third-class chartered city since it was bestowed this status in 1963 by the late President Diosdado Macapagal. It has remained largely underdeveloped and is said to be significantly dependent on agriculture and the meager tourism income it makes.

Meanwhile, Dipolog City where Evelyn Uy has previously served as mayor, appears one of the better performing cities in that part of the country, economy-wise.

In fact, local analysts said it has been the decent economic improvement of Dipolog which helped Uy stave off an electoral challenge by a Jalosjos for the mayoral post of that city in 2013. Based on recent election records, the Jalosjos clan seems unable to mount a strong challenge against the Uys. If these records were to serve as basis of a prediction, the possibility is strong that a good number of voters in Dapitan City may consider Uy’s bid to become their next mayor.

In the meantime, that matter is still in the hands of the Commission En Banc.

After all, this is one decision that could reshape the history of politics in Dapitan City.

With a decision with historical proportions such as this one, PedXing is confident that the COMELEC would act with prudence and wisdom. It would not succumb to political pressure; nor would it allow itself to be used by the political forces at play.

Behold God’s glory, and seek His mercy,

Pause and pray, people.