Tension still high in Imus; mayor Ricafrente blames governorBy Maricar Cinco
Inquirer Southern Luzon
Tension remained high in Imus City as two officials insisted on their right to be the mayor.
More than 200 policemen have taken positions in front of the City Hall, where incumbent Mayor Emmanuel Maliksi holed himself in after the Supreme court reversed a lower court decision that declared him the rightful winner in 2011, ousting then mayor Homer Saquilayan.
Saquilayan, who bandied a writ of execution from the Commission on Elections and was sworn in by the governor of Cavite, insists on resuming his functions as mayor. His supporters have been massing in front of a church in the town plaza while supporters of Maliksi are holding their ground at City Hall.
Maliksi, a member of President Aquino’s Liberal Party, spent the night in his office, insisting that the court order was not yet final since he had filed a motion for reconsideration.
The president of the Cavite Mayors League, Jose Ricafrente, came to Maliksi’s defense and accused Gov. Juanito Victor Remulla of “grave abuse of power” when he swore in Saquilayan and forcibly entered City Hall.
Ricafrente said Remulla, who leads the Partido Magdalo, had “started the commotion” when he forced his way into City Hall and swore in Saquilayan.
Imus City police chief Supt. Redrico Maranan, said by phone on Tuesday afternoon that the massive police presence was only meant for peacekeeping, should supporters from either camp clash.
The situation stemmed from an election protest initiated by Maliksi against Saquilayan, who was then the sitting mayor. In December 2011, the Imus regional trial court removed Saquilayan and installed Maliksi as the rightful winner. But the high court last week overturned the lower court’s decision and declared Saquilayan the mayor.
In a phone interview, Saquilayan said he was requesting President Aquino to intervene.
“I’m asking (Aquino) to advice his partymate to obey the law,”which the Supreme Court in its ruling said was “immediately executory.”
“When they asked me to step down, I did so even if I had also filed an MR (motion for reconsideration),”said Saquilayan of the Nacionalista Party.
Maliksi could not be contacted by phone but his lawyer, Lualhati Cruz, insisted that the high court decision could be implemented only after the motion for reconsideration was finally resolved.
Resident Aida Gaerlan said the tension had affected residents living nearby. “They hold vigils with karaoke blaring throughout the night. We can’t sleep. This has been affecting us and we are not involved in their politics,”she said in a text message.
The standoff has also affected operations at the city hall, according to employees.
“We still come in for work but I’m just not sure if the policemen outside are allowing the taxpayers to come in,”said an employee of the city’s budget office, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals from either camp.
Another employee said the tension rendered government operations “abnormal.”
An employee of the city’s personnel’s office said they were “getting confused regarding who our mayor really is. Both are issuing directives but we don’t know who to follow.” She also said around 1,700 contractual and coterminous employees may lose their jobs should a new mayor be installed again.