Lucy Torres moves in to replace hubby in Ormoc House bid
By Elvie Roman-Roa, Joey A. Gabieta
First Posted 20:38:00 04/30/2010
ORMOC CITY, Philippines—Lucy Torres-Gomez has started campaigning for the congressional seat in the fourth district of Leyte even if the Commission on Elections has yet to decide if she will be allowed to replace her husband, actor Richard Gomez, whom the poll body had disqualified.
The model-cum-television host began campaigning as a candidate Thursday night, an hour after Richard announced his decision to accept the Comelec's first division’s decision to disqualify him over the lack of residency issue but would instead want to be substituted by his wife, a native of Ormoc.
Lawyer Edgardo Cordeno, the Gomez couple’s legal counsel, said Friday he would submit a manifestation to the Comelec en banc withdrawing the submitted motion for reconsideration they filed last December and instead allow Lucy to replace Richard, based on the Comelec Rule of Substitution for a dead or disqualified candidate.
Leyte's provincial election officer Felicismo Embalzado, however, said that Richard would continue to be the official candidate on the official ballot for Leyte province, which has already been printed, unless there is a Comelec decision would say otherwise.
Richard, speaking during a Liberal Party sortie here Thursday night, became emotional as he announced his withdrawal from the race and his substitution by his wife.
Lucy accepted the challenge and immediately started campaigning. She assured their supporters that their votes would not go to waste because they would still be voting for a Gomez, and a native of Ormoc at that.
Also, she stressed, that if she wins, it’s "vote one, take two kay ako lang ang molingkod pero ang tinuod nga moserbisyo si Richard Gomez (you will elect me as your congresswoman but Richard will do the work as) my Chief of Staff."
Lucy is expected to file her certificate of candidacy this week, according to her brother-in-law Vincent Rama. Rama is the husband of Lucy's sister Karen.
Rama said Lucy is also set to take her oath as a member of the Liberal Party to formalize her foray into politics.
She is running so that Richard's votes would be counted and not be wasted, Rama said over the phone.
The first division of the Comelec had earlier disqualified Gomez from running as representative of Leyte’s fourth congressional district, saying he is not a resident of Ormoc, Lucy’s hometown.
He had filed a motion for reconsideration, which the poll body has yet to decide.
For his part, lawyer Felicisimo Embalsado, Leyte elections supervisor, was cautious in answering questions regarding the possibility of Lucy substituting her husband.
He, however, said that both Republic Act 9006 (Fair Elections Law) and Republic Act 8436, which refers to poll automation, says a candidate can be substituted for reasons of death, withdrawal or disqualification.
But there should be a final decision otherwise, substitution would not be allowed, Embalsado said.
He also said that the substitute candidate should belong to the same political party and carry the same last name as the candidate to be substituted.
At present, Richard is still considered to be the official candidate. His name was the one printed in the ballots, Embalsado said.
Asked on his opinion on the Dec. 14 deadline for substitution set by the Comelec, Embalsado declined to comment, saying it is up to the Comelec en banc to discuss, especially since Gomez's case is still pending.
Rama said Richard would withdraw his motion for reconsideration he filed before the Comelec en banc to pave the way for his replacement in the congressional race by his wife.
From there, Lucy would file her own certificate of substitution, together with her own certificate of candidacy before the provincial office of the Comelec office based in Tacloban.
Either Monday or Tuesday, Lucy will go to the provincial Comelec office to file her own certificate of candidacy as a substitute candidate, Rama said.
Malacańang had earlier declared Monday as an official holiday in lieu of May 1, Labor Day, which this year falls on Saturday.
Rama said that with Lucy running against a formidable opponent, Eufrocino Codilla Jr., whose family has lorded over the district for years now, the people of Ormoc and the rest of the district would be "saved" but declined to elaborate on what he meant.
According to Rama, the issue of residency could no longer be thrown at Lucy by their opponents because she is a "true-blooded Ormocanon."
She was actually the first choice to run for Congress but she thought Richard would be the better choice considering his experience and advocacies, Rama said.
He said the decision for her to run as a substitute was actually made two weeks ago.
Aside from Ormoc, the fourth district comprises the towns of Kananga, Matag-ob, Palompon, Isabel and Albuera.