IMUS, Cavite, Philippines—Tension arose anew as Emmanuel Maliksi on Wednesday took his oath as mayor of this town to replace Homer Saquilayan who was the duly proclaimed winner in the 2010 elections.
Government transactions continued even as all the other gates of the town hall were padlocked except for the front gate of the town hall that remained open but heavily guarded by Saquilayan’s supporters.
Maliksi of the Liberal Party was accompanied by his family, including his father, former Cavite governor and incumbent Imus Representative Erineo “Ayong” Maliksi at the regional trial court (RTC) branch 22 here.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, with whom the Maliksis were known to be closely allied, administered the oath taking at around 9 a.m.
From the RTC, Maliksi and his supporters, who were in yellow clothes, proceeded instead to Maliksi’s home, locally known here as the “white house” in Barangay Bayang Luma.
In a brief press conference, Maliksi said “we will give them enough time to leave. We will let the court serve the writ of execution to prevent violence.”
Maliksi was referring to Saquilayan’s supporters, who began gathering at the municipal hall on Tuesday evening to prevent Maliksi’s takeover.
An employee from the municipal General Services Office said government transactions continued inside the town hall despite the tension.
Senior Superintendent John Bulalacao, Cavite police director, said Saquilayan’s supporters, who wore white clothes, numbered at least 1,000.
Truckloads of policemen, some with truncheons, and a team of Special Weapons and Tactics, stood around the town hall as the court sheriff served the writ of execution.
Bulalacao would not say the exact number of the policemen but he said the regional police office sent 100 policemen to augment the Cavite police. “We have just enough to ensure a peaceful transition of power in Imus,” he said.
Saquilayan, who ran under the Nacionalista Party, earlier refused to step down, insisting that the Comelec had favored his petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent the RTC branch 22 from installing Maliksi.
However, in the Comelec ruling dated December 20, commissioners Armando Velasco and Christian Robert Lim of the Comelec First Division had affixed their handwritten dissenting opinion that in turn invalidated the issuance of the TRO.
This allowed the RTC to implement its November 15 ruling that declared Maliksi as the rightful winner with 665 votes against Saquilayan.
Saquilayan had left the municipal hall hours before court sheriff Elmer Ascueta arrived at noon to serve the writ of execution. Saquilayan’s legal counsel, lawyer Charles Mercado, received the court order in behalf of the unseated mayor.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer tried to call Saquilayan on his mobile phone but his staff Patrizenette Villena said he was in a closed-door meeting.
Villena said Saquilayan’s camp would exhaust all “legal remedies” and would bring the case to the Supreme Court.
“The mayor (Saquilayan) already informed the supporters to vacate the municipal hall but they decided to hold their ground. He said he would have to respect the rule of law,” Villena said.