Imus mayoralty fight moot, says Comelec chief
MANILA, Philippines—The real winner in the 2010 mayoralty race in Imus, Cavite, will be known only after the May elections, rendering the see-saw battle moot and academic in favor of incumbent Mayor Emmanuel Maliksi, Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. said on Friday.
Brillantes said it could take the Comelec 15 days to one month to conduct the revision and description of ballots to determine the winner between Maliksi and his opponent Homer Saquilayan.
“(The question regarding) who is the winner will become academic. Even if we start immediately on Monday it will take time… it will run up to (after) election day,” Brillantes told reporters.
“It’s no more. The decision will be useless,” he added.
Brillantes noted that Maliksi and Saquilayan were again facing off in the coming elections so the voters will be the ones to decide.
Up to the people
“I think it should really be thrown to the people of Imus. Anyway, (Maliksi and Saquilayan) are again running against each other so let the people of Imus decide,” he added.
Nevertheless, Brillantes said the Comelec would still proceed with the recount even if the outcome is already moot.
“We need to repeat the process again and we will finish it before the end of the term, which is June 30. Ultimately, we have to make a decision,” he said.
The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday reversed its ruling last month affirming the Comelec decision to unseat Maliksi after Associate Justice Jose Perez changed his vote and agreed with the new court majority to remand the case to the Comelec.
‘‘I think we did not do anything wrong. I don’t want to say that it’s the Supreme Court which made a mistake because they should not make mistakes,” Brillantes said.
“You see, based on the decision, it’s eight to seven, so that means it’s not really clear cut. We won at first but one (justice) changed his vote. Maybe it’s the Supreme Court which has a problem. It keeps on changing. But not us. We are a bit consistent,” he added.
The legal battle started when Maliksi filed an election protest before the regional trial court, which declared him the winner after finding discrepancies in the ballots and annulled the proclamation of Saquilayan as mayor. Saquilayan brought the case to the Comelec, which decided against Maliksi without his participation in the proceedings.
Last month, the Supreme Court unseated Maliksi with a vote of 8-7. But Maliksi refused to leave City Hall despite efforts of Saquilayan and his ally, Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla to forcibly evict him from his office. On Thursday, acting on Maliksi’s motion for reconsideration, the high court reversed itself and ordered the election protest remanded to the Comelec. The vote was also 8-7.
On Friday, Maliksi called the tribunal’s decision a vindication.
“We only fought for our right to due process, we only fought in accordance with the rule of law. And now we thank the SC for preserving and acknowledging my right and the right of every Imuseo,” Maliksi said in a press statement issued following a thanksgiving mass at the Imus City Hall.