BONTOC, Mountain Province – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) declared that a family member of the late unopposed Gov. Leonard G. Mayaen can substitute him and could automatically become the province’s local chief executive by noon of June 30, 2016.
However, lawyer Julia Elenita Tabangin Capuyan, newly-installed Mountain Province provincial election supervisor, said that the family member who will replace the late governor should have the similar surname as substitution is allowed under election rules even if he or she is an independent candidate, provided that, the independent candidate is not eligible because of death or total disqualification by operation of law.
Mayaen, who is unopposed for his third term as governor, succumbed to cardiac arrest Thursday at the age of 63.
The Comelec official explained that Mayaen’s daughters could substitute their father and could become the next local chief executive of the province because females are allowed to use their maiden names, if they are married.
For the unexpired term of the governor, Tabangin cited Vice Governor Bonifacio Lacwasan will be sworn in as acting governor while the senior boardmember, Francis Tauli, will also be sworn in as acting vice governor after the mourning period so as not to jeopardize the smooth operations of the provincial government.
According to her, if the family could not find a substitute for Mayaen in time for the turnover ceremonies by June 30, the law of succession pursuant to Section 45 of the Local government code will apply where Lacwasan, who is the automatic vice-governor considering that he is also unopposed in his position, will become the governor and the senior boardmember who will be elected by the people will be automatically become the vice governor of the province.
“We have to take note that Gov. Mayaen is automatically re-elected by June 30 considering his unopposed status but he must be substituted by a qualified family member with a similar surname,” Tabangin stressed.
Mayaen and Lacwasan are unopposed for the province’s gubernatorial and vice-gubernatorial positions with both of them filing their respective candidacies for their desired positions as independent candidates.
Tabangin appealed to the local officials and the people of the province to be sober about the possibilities that might happen in the eletive positions of the province for them to first mourn the untimely demise of the father of Mountain Province and for things to be put in place later.
Tabangin assumed as the provincial election supervisor of the province after the reshuffling of all regional and provincial election supervisors while lawyer Ricardo Lampac, who was the former supervisor for Mountain Province, was sent to the Baguio-Benguet provincial office.
By Dexter A. See