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Nueva Ecija city has no mayor as court issues warrant

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SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ—After having two officials tangling over the mayor’s seat three months ago, this city is now without a mayor.

Vice Mayor Ester Lazaro said she would not assume the mayoral seat even as Mayor Efren Alvarez has gone on another prolonged absence after the Sandiganbayan issued a warrant for his arrest on graft charges on Feb. 15. This prompted the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police to run after him.

Superintendent Michael Angelo Zuñiga, city police chief, said a team from NBI and the police served the arrest warrant on Alvarez in his office at the City Hall and in his house in Barangay Poblacion South here on Jan. 21, but “the accused was nowhere to be found.”

“Accordingly, [Alvarez] last reported for work on Feb. 19,” Zuñiga said.

But Lazaro said she would wait for an official order from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to assume the post.

“I will remain vice mayor and perform my duties as vice mayor,” she said.

In 2009, the Sandiganbayan found Alvarez guilty of granting unwarranted benefits to a private construction firm, which won the build-operate-transfer contract for a P240-million multilevel shopping mall on a government property despite a problem with its license.

The warrant was issued by the Sandiganbayan on February 15 this year after the Supreme Court’s first division issued a resolution on February  6 that denied, with finality, Alvarez’s motion for reconsideration.

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Tags: Conflict , courts , Local officials , Nueva Ecija , Politics , Regions , warrant

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