‘American’ mayor of Lanao Norte town still refuses to give in to rival, appeals SC ruling
KAUSWAGAN, Lanao del Norte, Philippines – Tension flared up here anew as followers of Mayor Rommel Arnado stood their ground in a bid to prevent the mayor’s 2013 rival, Florante Capitan, from occupying the town hall.
On Monday, seven persons were injured in a melee among the followers of the two politicians.
Capitan’s group, backed by the camp of Casan Maquiling, another Arnado rival, tried to enter the town hall on Monday, claiming Capitan had already been installed as mayor.
Capitan, who lost to Arnado in 2013, has been banking on the August 18 en banc decision of the Supreme Court, stating that as a US citizen, Arnado could not run for any elective post in the Philippines.
He said by disqualifying the mayor, the Supreme Court had installed him as the rightful mayor.
“On September 17 last year, we asked the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to issue an implementing order but until now, no order has been issued,” he said.
Lt. Col. Leomar Doctolero, commander of the 15th Infantry Battalion, said soldiers have been posted at the town hall to prevent a repeat of Monday’s confrontation, in which, seven persons were injured.
Capitan urged the DILG to decide on Arnado’s case to prevent confusion.
Arnado said he has filed an appeal on his disqualification but Capitan insisted that the Supreme Court’s decision was final and executory.
“I am urging DILG Secretary (Menen) Sarmiento to take action on this issue in order to finally resolve the issue,” Capitan said.
Arnado said Capitan and Maquiling’s followers have illegally assembled and that he would sue them for the offense.
He urged his rivals to wait for the final decision of the high court instead of engaging in harassment and public disorder.
“We still have a pending supplemental Motion for Reconsideration to be resolved. Until such time the issue is decided with finality, I will stay here. I will respect the rule of law. I am in adherence with the law,” Arnado added.
As of Wednesday, followers of both groups were still within the vicinity of the town hall.
Doctolero warned both camps against committing violence, saying the military would do its best to maintain law and order in the town. SFM
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