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Mayoral row in Ecija town escalates

Two mayors now hold office at Jaen municipal hall after ‘losing’ candidate scores court-proclaimed win
/ 05:04 AM December 19, 2020

DISRUPTED Work at the municipal hall of Jaen, Nueva Ecija. is disrupted on Thursday when former Mayor Antonio Prospero Esquivel, accompanied by a sheriff and armed with a court ruling declaring him the elected mayor in the 2019 elections, starts to hold office at the ground floor while the sitting mayor, Sylvia Austria, is ensconced on the second floor. —ARMAND GALANG

JAEN, NUEVA ECIJA — This town now has two mayors after former Mayor Antonio Prospero Esquivel was proclaimed winner in the 2019 mayoral race by a local court last week.

But Esquivel was forced to hold office on the ground floor of the municipal hall because incumbent Mayor Sylvia Austria continued to discharge her duties on the second floor.

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Accompanied by a sheriff, Esquivel arrived at the town hall at 10 a.m. on Thursday to serve the court order issued on Dec. 7 by Judge Angelo Perez of Regional Trial Court Branch 87.

Perez also ordered Austria to vacate her post.

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Austria is serving her second term as mayor after she was proclaimed winner by the Commission on Elections in the 2019 mayoral elections.

Esquivel protested the results.

Austria’s son, Councilor Sylvester Austria, said the family was surprised that a writ of execution dated Dec. 16 had been issued before the mayor officially received the court order.

‘Restive situation’

Municipal employees said services were disrupted due to the “restive situation.” The town hall gates were closed.

In his order, Perez ruled that Austria’s proclamation as winner was null and void, after concluding that Esquivel garnered 18,737 votes to take the lead.

Austria’s total votes were not reflected in the order, a copy of which was posted on the hall’s bulletin board. But in her proclamation in May 2019, the municipal board of canvassers said Austria got 20,815 votes while Esquivel received 18,461 votes.

Police Lt. Col. Gerald Licyayo, Nueva Ecija deputy police director for operations, said policemen were deployed to keep the peace and order at the town hall. —ARMAND GALANG

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TAGS: 2019 election, Antonio Prospero Esquivel, Comelec, court, Election, Jaen, Nueva Ecija, Politics, Sylvia Austria, vote
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