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Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Philippines
October 10, 2007 issue

Alburquerque mayor fights unseat raps



Embattled Alburquerque Mayor Jose Ugdoracion, Jr. has until tomorrow to parry legal blows to unseat him after the Commission on Elections en banc disqualified him for being a US green card holder. Mayor Ugdoracion is in Manila to file tomorrow a petition for certiorari with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) before the Supreme Court. He was given five days to file the petition and the deadline is tomorrow. Earlier, the Comelec en banc denied his motion for reconsideration paving the way for his disqualification as candidate for mayor during the May 14 national and local elections. The basis for disqualification to hold elective public office due to lack of residency requirement was mandated under Section 39 of the Local Government Code.

The petition to disqualify Ugdoracion was filed by his rival in the last elections Eprhaim Tungol, son of former Alburquerque mayor Efren Tungol. The young Tungol was defeated by Ugdoracion even if the Comelec first division already found him disqualified as early as six days before the May 14 polls. The people of Alburquerque, however, still voted for Ugdoracion despite the disqualification decision. In unseating the incumbent mayor, the poll body found the respondent to have committed false material representation in his Certificate of Candidacy (COC) which resulted to the cancellation of the COC. Records showed that the respondent clearly indicated in the Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Status when he surrendered his permanent resident status of the United States only on October 18, 2006 . It was only that time that he reacquired his residence status in Alburquerque, Bohol . The Comelec en banc declared that it was very clear that if one has to reckon the date of surrender of permanent resident status which is October 18, 2006 that is only barely eight months come election time on May 14, 2007 .

Citing a Highest Court jurisprudence in Caasi vs. Court of Appeals, it ruled that immigration to the United States by virtue of a green card which entitles one to reside permanently in that country constitute abandonment of domicile in the Philippines. Consequently, prior to October 18, 2006 , the date of the abandonment of his status as permanent resident of the US , respondent is not for all intents and purposes be considered as a resident of Alburquerque. Thus, respondent did not only make a material misrepresentation in his COC but he also lacks the necessary residency requirement to run and be elected as mayor of Alburquerque. The Omnibus Election Code mandated a one year residency requirement before any elections.


In his motion for reconsideration, Mayor Ugdoracion alleged that he served the constituents of Alburquerque, Bohol in 1986 to 1988 as OIC of the office of the mayor. Thereafter, he was elected as mayor in 1988 up to 1998 and then after his term as mayor, he was elected as councilor of the same municipality. The mayor maintained that his travels abroad did not operate as abandonment of his domicile of origin in Alburquerque as such travels were only for a short period of time. He also averred that his immigrant visa “ was a mere offshoot of a petition filed in his favor by his sister, but this never his choice”. The motion was denied for lack of merit.

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