SAN PEDRO, Laguna—The elections will be held in two months, but rival factions in Imus City in Cavite are still warring over who’s the rightful mayor since the election of 2010.
The seating mayor, Emmanuel Maliksi, is refusing to return the office to the ousted mayor, Homer Saquilayan, despite an order from the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Cavite Election Supervisor Arnulfo Pio Quinto on Monday went to the Mayor’s Office to serve the Comelec order reinstating Saquilayan, a member of the Nacionalista Party, who was forced to relinquish the post in December 2011 after the Imus Regional Trial Court acted favorably on Maliksi’s election protest.
However, the Supreme Court last week issued a decision declaring Saquilayan the duly elected mayor in 2010.
“Governor (Juanito Victor) Remulla stepped in and with the Comelec supervisor, they served the order at the mayor’s office but (Maliksi) locked himself inside the office,” Saquilayan said in a phone interview.
About a hundred policemen and members of the city’s Special Weapons and Tactics Team barricaded the front lawn of the municipal building, according to Saquilayan.
Maliksi’s supporters, most of them in yellow, had been holding a vigil at the municipal hall grounds since Sunday evening, Saquilayan said.
Maliksi is the son of incumbent Imus Rep. Erineo “Ayong” Maliksi, who is running for governor of Cavite under the administration Liberal Party.
“(Maliksi) refused to come out so the Comelec supervisor just taped the 15-page order outside the door (of the mayor’s office),” Remulla said in a separate phone interview.
Saquilayan himself said he waited in his car while the Comelec official served the notice.
But when he learned that Maliksi refused to vacate the office, he decided to take his oath as mayor under a mango tree at the Our Lady of Pillar Cathedral located near the city plaza.
Saquilayan said his supporters, who wore red on Monday, were assembled at the cathedral grounds and left at about 3 p.m.
“It’s just one seat. I’m willing to hold my office even by the roadside as long as the people know that I’m the mayor,” Saquilayan said.
Maliksi assailed the Comelec’s implementation of the order, saying that the directive that he vacate the office was “irregular.”
“It’s irregular because the order should have come from the court of origin (the Imus RTC) and should have been served by the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government),” Maliksi said in a phone interview.
He said he could not be forced out of office since he had asked the Supreme Court on Monday to reconsider its ruling declaring Saquilayan the duly elected mayor.
Maliksi said the legal action that he took with the SC, “should have prevented the tension (this afternoon).”
Maliksi also criticized Remulla’s involvement in the dispute.
“The governor’s action was so unbecoming. He took the law into his own hands when he climbed over the (city hall) gate and forced himself inside. Some of our supporters were even hurt,” Maliksi said.
Remulla, for his part, said that Maliksi’s camp “was trying to show they are above the law.”
Saquilayan said he planned to come back Tuesday hoping “(Maliksi) would change his mind and vacate the office.”
Maliksi, however, appeared to be unwilling to give up the post anytime soon. Asked if he intended to spend the night inside city hall, he declared: “Why not? I am still the mayor.”