THE Supreme Court has suspended former Maguindanao provincial election supervisor Lintang Bedol from practicing law for prematurely issuing notices for a special election in a barangay days before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) declared a failure of elections in 2004.
In a recent six-page resolution, the SC 3rd Division found Bedol guilty of violation of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR), which requires lawyers to “uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land, and promote respect for law and for legal processes.”
He was suspended for one year.
The Comelec en banc issued on July 27, 2004 a resolution declaring a failure of elections in Barangay Guiawa, Kabuntalan municipality, and ordered that special elections be held the next day.
But Bedol already issued a notice on July 23 informing political parties and voters of the July 28 elections. He issued another notice informing candidates and parties that a conference would be held in his office on July 25. On July 26, he issued a notice that canvassing would be held in Shariff Aguak, then the de facto capital of the province.
The SC said this violated Section 4 of Republic Act Number 7166, which vested upon the Comelec en banc the power of declaring a failure of elections and scheduling special elections.
“Respondent’s act of issuing those notices ahead of the issuance of the Comelec en banc Resolution calling for a special election was not in compliance with the procedures under the law and the Comelec rules. In so doing, he breached his duty to obey the laws and the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities,” read the decision penned by then Associate Justice now Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta.
It rejected his argument that there was no more time to prepare for the special elections because of the time constraints, saying this had “no basis in law.”
Bedol gained notoriety in the 2007 elections when he was implicated in the “Hello Garci” election fraud controversy.