By VILLAMOR VISAYA JR., Philippine Daily Inquirer News Correspondent
PARACELIS, Mountain Province—A legal tussle among three political leaders in this town in Mountain Province is putting people in a bind about who is the rightful mayor to sit following legal issues surrounding the past May 19, 2022 elections.
The issue has cropped up after the elected Paracelis town mayor was previously disqualified to run due to his conviction which was decided “with finality” by the Supreme Court for illegal logging, the elected vice mayor is seeking the post through the rule on succession, and the second-placed former mayor who aims to take the post due to the elected mayor’s disqualification prior to the elections.
Avelino Amangyen got 9,220 votes despite the Comelec order canceling his certificate of candidacy for “material misrepresentation” in April this year and for conviction of an illegal logging crime with finality in 2018.
Former Mayor Marcos Ayangwa, whose term had lapsed on June 30 at noon, received 5,185 votes. Third-ranked bet, Amor Liban got 1,172 votes.
The Department of Interior and Local Government has ordered elected vice mayor Djarma Rafael to take over in an acting capacity while the election office has yet to resolve the legal impasse. Rafael would heed the order, according to her lawyer, Elmer Sagsago.
Interior and Local Government regional director Araceli San Jose said in her June 28 order that due to the absence of a Comelec en banc resolution on Amangyen’s motion for reconsideration on June 30 noon, “there shall exist a temporary vacancy in the position of Mayor. In that case, pursuant to the Local Government Code of 1991, the Vice Mayor shall then assume as the Mayor in an Acting Capacity.” The DILG regional head, however, stressed that the vice mayor’s assumption would hinge on the outcome of COMELEC’s resolution.
To settle the issue, the Comelec has been asked to act on the matter, Ayangwa told reporters in a news briefing on July 4 late afternoon here.
“I am pleading before the Comelec en banc to resolve the urgent motion on the legally elected and legitimate mayor to put off tension and confusion. Let us put a rest on this matter,” former mayor Ayangwa added.
Ayangwa, through a letter to the DILG, has also asked that an “immediate written directive, advisory, order or any other proper action denying, dismissing, or repudiating, or holding in abeyance the implementation” of the order installing Rafael as acting mayor.
Ayangwa’s lawyers opined that he was the legitimate winner. Amangyen’s votes were declared stray due to his disqualification for material misrepresentation and due to conviction for illegal logging, Ayangwa’s lawyers said.#