Top councilor named acting Samar town mayor amid leadership dispute
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has designated Councilor Vicky Mabulay as acting mayor of San Sebastian, Samar amid the leadership dispute and legal issues involving its elected mayor.
Mabulay is the municipality’s top councilor.
“Because of the foregoing developments and due to the existing impediments of Mayor Abalos and Vice Mayor Mabao, the department is constrained to follow the law on succession and recognize the ranking councilor as the acting mayor of San Sebastian, Samar,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement Wednesday.
In July, DILG Eastern Visayas Regional Director Artemio Caneja issued a memorandum ordering San Sebastian Vice Mayor Eleuterio Mabao to assume as acting mayor, replacing Mayor Arnold Abalos.
Abalos was dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2013 and barred from holding public office after he was found guilty of failing to remit the municipal government employees’ Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) worth P7 million.
Año said that pursuant with the executory nature of decisions of the Ombudsman in conjunction with the memorandum of the DILG, local elective officials should continuously serve the imposed penalty or suspension despite their reelection in the May elections.
He said this caused the DILG to initially recognize Mabao as the acting mayor of San Sebastian.
Abalos, however, filed a petition for a quo warranto with a prayer for preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order against Mabao before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 27 of Catbalogan City, Samar in July.
Abalos reassumed his post in October, saying that the court has granted his petition to set aside the order of the DILG that prohibited him from assuming his position.
To resolve the issue and prevent an interruption in the delivery of government services in San Sebastian, Año said the DILG will “defer compliance” with the writ of preliminary injunction issued by the RTC under two grounds.
“First, the Department is not a party to the petition for quo warranto. A petition for quo warranto is an action which binds only the parties to the case, the department not being privy thereto is not bound by the RTC Order,” he said.
“Secondarily, considering that Mayor Abalos’ dismissal emanated from the Office of the Ombudsman, prudence dictates that the Department seek guidance first from that Office in light of the RTC decision,” he also said. /gsg
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