Mayor who eluded arrest reclaims seat

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10:45 PM November 29th, 2012

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November 29th, 2012 10:45 PM

SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ—Mayor Efren Alvarez on Thursday returned to the City Hall to reassume his post after securing documents from the Department of the Interior and Local Government showing that he is the legitimate mayor of this city.

Vice Mayor Ester Lazaro, who took her oath as mayor on Nov. 5 because of the mayor’s prolonged absence, stepped down to give way to Alvarez.

The Sandiganbayan had convicted Alvarez in 2009 over anomalies in the construction of a shopping mall on a government property here. The antigraft court found Alvarez guilty of granting unwarranted benefits to a private construction firm, which won the build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract for a P240-million multilevel shopping mall on a government property despite a problem with its license.

The mayor had appealed his conviction at the Supreme Court, but the graft court ordered his arrest on Oct. 15 after the high court junked his appeal.

In a memorandum he issued on Thursday, Alvarez said: “I am the only duly elected mayor of the Science City of Muñoz with a mandate to serve its people until noon of June 30, 2013.”

Alvarez, in his memorandum, attached a Nov. 12 letter from Interior Undersecretary Rafael Antonio Santos saying that the DILG “recognizes your (Alvarez’s) re-assumption into office and your incumbency as mayor until otherwise declared by the Supreme Court or the Sandiganbayan.”

Another document attached to the memorandum was a copy of a Nov. 27 resolution by the fourth division of the Sandiganbayan, recalling the arrest warrant it issued against Alvarez.

The Sandiganbayan, in issuing the resolution, cited a resolution of the first division of the Supreme Court “which gave due course to his (Alvarez) second motion for reconsideration, ordered the referral of his case to the Supreme Court en banc and directed the lifting of the entry of judgment made therein.” Anselmo Roque, Inquirer Central Luzon

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