Samar town mayor reassumes post
SAN SEBASTIAN, Samar –– The mayor of San Sebastian town in Samar has reassumed his post on Thursday amid an earlier order that barred him from holding public office.
Arnold Abalos, who won the mayoral race in the May 13, 2019 elections, said the court has granted his plea to set aside an order of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) which prohibited him from assuming his position as mayor of the sixth-class town with more than 8,000 people.
“So I am asking the elected vice mayor to (step down as acting mayor) and let’s talk to avoid any conflicts in our town,” he said.
But Acting Mayor Eleuterio Mabao refused to give in and continued to hold on to his post.
Mabao, in an interview, said he would only step down if there is an order by the DILG.
“I am not clinging to this post as acting mayor of San Sebastian as I will just revert to my post as vice mayor of the town which I was originally elected. However, I will consult first with the DILG for their opinion considering that it was the DILG who asked me to assume the post of municipal mayor in an acting capacity,” he said.
Mabao said he would consult his lawyers and DILG on the matter.
Last July 2019, Mabao took over as mayor of San Sebastian upon the order of the DILG.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año had addressed all regional directors advising them that the DILG shall not acknowledge any public official dismissed from service or still serving suspension orders, despite winning in the May 13 polls.
Año orders winning candidates to present proof that they have already finished their period of suspension or have been cleared by competent courts to assume their posts.
In 2014, the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas ordered the dismissal from service of Abalos for failure to remit P7.6 million worth of insurance premiums of employees from 2008 to 2012 to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).
Abalos filed a quo warranto petition with a prayer for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order before a Regional Trial Court in Catbalogan City, the provincial capital, on July 12 so he could reassume his post as mayor.
On October 7, Judge Cicero Lampasa of the Regional Trial Court Branch 27 granted the temporary restraining order prayed for by Abalos.
Supporters of Abalos camped themselves outside the municipal building as he assumed the post on Thursday.
Judy Batulan, provincial head of the DILG-Samar, said he has not yet received a copy of the order of the court which was used by Abalos as his basis to retake his post.
“We have not received any order from any court regarding this matter. If there is a legal order (directing Abalos to reassume the post), we will follow it but pending such decision, (Mabao) is still the mayor (of San Sebastian),” Batulan said./lzb
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