Capiz town’s mayor-elect remains in hiding

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ILOILO CITY, Philippines—The fugitive mayor-elect of Mambusao town in Capiz, who is being hunted for murder, cannot assume office even if he has taken his oath, according to the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Cedric Jaranilla, DILG Western Visayas legal officer, told the Inquirer his office received on July 1 a copy of a notarized oath of office of Leodegario Labao Jr. as mayor of Mambusao town. The oath was administered and notarized by lawyer Geraldine Ranillo on June 25 in Taguig City.

Jaranilla said there were doubts over the notarized oath because Labao “must be physically present” to take the oath.

Labao has been in hiding since the Mambusao Regional Trial Court Branch 21 in Capiz issued a warrant for his arrest and four others on April 10 in connection with the death of Mambusao Vice Mayor Abel Martinez on May 4 last year. Police have failed to locate Labao.

The other suspects were identified as Geger Francisco, Sunday Danid, Army S/Sgt. Rommel Pamotillo and Roger Loredo. Only Labao and Francisco remain at large.

Labao has been tagged as the mastermind in the May 4, 2012 killing of Martinez, 79, who died from five bullet wounds after he was repeatedly shot by a lone gunman outside his house in Mambusao.

Martinez was planning to run as Liberal Party candidate for mayor when he was killed.

Labao, who ran under the National Unity Party which is allied with the United Nationalist Alliance, defeated Sharon Martinez-Martelino (LP), the daughter of the slain vice mayor and two independent candidates.

Jaranilla said under the Local Government Code, the vice mayor should automatically assume office as acting mayor if the elected mayor cannot  be physically present to perform his duties.

Labao, said Jaranilla, “will not be effective if he is in hiding and if he is arrested if he surfaces.”

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