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Ex-Antique gov to appeal conviction

/ 11:22 AM November 03, 2020

ILOILO CITY –– Former Antique governor Exequiel Javier vowed to contest a court ruling that found him guilty of violating an election law in 2013.

“We will file an appeal this week and bring it to the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court if necessary,” Javier told the INQUIRER on Monday evening.

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The former governor insisted that he did not violate the Omnibus Election Code because he was abiding by the Local Government Code when he implemented a 30-day preventive suspension against Mayor Mary Joyce Roquero of Valderrama town in Antique.

Javier said the suspension order, which was issued on Jan. 23, 2013, was not covered by the 90-day ban on the suspension of elective officials before the May 13, 2013 elections based on the Local Government Code.

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The preventive suspension order stemmed from an administrative complaint filed against Roquero by then Valderrama Vice Mayor Christopher Maguad.

Maguad, an ally of Javier, accused Roquero of allegedly failing to implement a municipal zoning ordinance banning the construction of gasoline and water refilling stations less than 100 meters from churches and other public buildings.

But Roquero disputed the allegations, saying that the municipal ordinance did not take effect because it was not published in a newspaper of general circulation as required by law.

Javier, a lawyer, asserted that provisions of the Omnibus Election Code were repealed by the Local Government Code, which, he said, shortened the ban on the suspension of elective officials from 120 days to 90 days before elections.

He argued that the Local Government Code, being a special law, should prevail over the Omnibus Election Code.

In a judgment dated Sept.3, the Antique Regional Trial Court Branch 10 convicted Javier of violating Section 261 (x) of the Omnibus Election Code, which prohibits the suspension of any elective official during the election period without the prior approval of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), unless the suspension is related to graft and corruption.

Judge Ernesto Abijay Jr., the presiding judge, sentenced Javier to a jail term from a minimum of one year to a maximum of three years imprisonment, not subject to probation.

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In his ruling, Abijay said there was no conflict or irreconcilability in the provisions of the Omnibus Election Code and Local Government Code.

He upheld the position of the Comelec, which filed the complaint against Javier that Sections 60, 61, 62, 63, and 66 of the Local Government Code “did not impliedly repeal” Section 261(x) of the Omnibus Election Code.

He said both laws were enacted “to prevent politically motivated acts that could harass or coerce the opposing person, candidate, or political party during the elections.”

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TAGS: conviction, court ruling, election offense, Exequiel Javier, former Antique governor, Regions
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