He said the resolution was "issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction."
Ejercito, a nephew of former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, also asked the High Court to issue a status quo ante order or a temporary restraining order to temporarily halt the implementation of the Comelec resolution, while the Court decides on the case.
In deciding on Ejercito's disqualification, the Comelec considered as evidence of campaign overspending the amounts stated in two advertising contracts between ABS-CBN Corporation and Scenema Concept International Inc.
The latter produced the multi-award-winning biographical films Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story and El Presidente: General Emilio Aguinaldo Story, both featuring Ejercito.
The advertising contracts supposedly covered airtime for Ejercito's campaign advertisements, which exceeded the authorized expenditure limit set by the Fair Election Act.
Since Laguna had 1,525,522 registered voters for the May 2013 elections, Ejercito was only allowed to spend P4.5 million ($104,895) for his campaign.
But in his petition for certiorari before the SC, Ejercito argued that the Comelec "relied on documentary exhibit which was not formally offered as evidence" before the commission. The Comelec on its own sourced the documents as evidence in the case.
Ejercito also argued that he was disqualified "for an act done by a third party [which] simply exercised its right to free expression."
Due process violated?
It was Ejercito's lone rival in the 2013 gubernatorial race, Edgar San Luis, who filed before the Comelec a case against him for alleged violation of election law.
In his petition, Ejercito argued that his right to due process was violated when the Comelec automatically ruled in favor of his disqualification "even if it was never prayed for" in San Luis' petition.
San Luis is a former Congressman of the ruling Liberal Party, while Ejercito is a former 3-term mayor of Pagsanjan town. Ejercito won as Laguna governor, defeating San Luis by a margin of around 100,000 votes.
Disqualification before probe
The Comelec disqualified Ejercito and declared his office vacant, prior to the conduct of a probe for the purpose of filing a complaint over Ejercito's alleged violations.
In its resolution disqualifying Ejercito, the Comelec directed its Campaign Finance Unit to coordinate with its law department the conduct of preliminary investigation into his alleged electoral offenses.
But for Ejercito, the probe and subsequent findings should have gone first before his disqualification.
Ejercito cited Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code which requires a finding either by a court or the Comelec that he indeed committed an election offense before a petition for disqualification can be lodged against him.
"Worse, there is yet no finding of guilt by a competent court or a finding of fact stating that petitioner actually committed the alleged election offense of overspending," his petition read. – Rappler.com
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