Special polls in Surigao del Norte imminent after SC finally rules Dinagat not a province

by Ben Serrano

     October 22, 2010


            SURIGAO CITY- Special elections for Congressman to Governor and Vice Governor posts including Provincial Board Member seats for the first district of Surigao del Norte is in the offing after Supreme Court with finality nullifying a law that created Dinagat Islands a province.


            At the height of the preparations for the May 10, 2010 national and local elections, the COMELEC central office issued directives that unless the High Tribunal will issue with finality a ruling declaring Dinagat Islands not a province, election for Congressional post to Governor and Vice Governor down to Provincial Board Members pushes through.


            COMELEC also ruled that if Supreme Court will issue resolution with finality declaring Dinagat Islands Province not a province then a special election for the entire province will be held.


            Under special elections, Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Islands registered voters will again elect one Provincial Governor and Vice Governor and Provincial Board members representing first district of Surigao del Norte which includes Dinagat Islands.


            “Now that Supreme Court has issued resolution last October 5, 2010 with finality that Dinagat Islands is not a province, a special election for the province is imminent or soon to be held depending on the COMELEC central office decsision when”, petitioners former Surigao del Norte Vice Governor Rodolfo “Ompong” Navarro and former Board Member Atty. Victor Bernal said.


            The two allegedly even wondered why the SC resolution with finality only made public only recently.


            In a press statement, Bernal said the entry of judgment was made May 18, 2010 and that the release of the decision was only made last October 5 which means the High Tribunal has affirmed R.A. 9355 the law creating Dinagat as province principally authored by Dinagat Islands Rep. Glenda Ecleo now sitting as Dinagat Governor was unconstitutional.


            Supreme Court maintained Dinagat did not consistently meet both land and population requirements set by law.


            Bernal said the decision was already forwarded to the different parties including the COMELEC office in Manila last October 5.


            THIS WRITER tried to contact/reach Caraga COMELEC Regional Director Francisco Pobe to get his comment about the SC ruling and or whether special elections was already scheduled for Surigao del Norte.


            In the last May 10, 2010 elections, newcomer and former Dep Ed Regional Director Sol Folcadilla Matugas defeated then incumbent Surigao del Norte Governor Robert Ace Barbers, son of former DILG secretary and the late Senator Robert Zabala Barbers.


            The current sitting Surigao del Norte Governor is wife of current First District Surigao del Norte Rep. Francisco Matugas whose position will also be contested if special elections be held.


            The Matugas political camp practically win all 20 mayoralty positions in Surigao del Norte province while the Ecleos who have been ruling Dinagat for decades now also won easily over rivals in Dinagat.


            If special elections will be held, political rumors have it that a rematch between the bitter political rivals for decades in Surigao del Norte politics, families or camp of Barbers and Matugas will have an interesting rematch.


            Rumors have it that current Lone Dinagat Congressman Ruben “Bobong” Ecleo, Jr. will be pitted against Rep. Francisco “Lalo” in the first district congressional race after the Dinagat Congressional post was automatically phase out due to the SC ruling with finality. (-30-)