Comelec counters court order, reinstates Nueva Ecija town mayor

JAEN, Nueva Ecija—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has reinstated Mayor Sylvia Austria who stepped down last month over an electoral protest filed by her rival in a local court.

In an order dated Jan. 12, the Comelec’s second division directed a 60-day status quo and also advised sitting Mayor Antonio Prospero Esquivel “to peacefully turn over the subject post” to Austria.

Regional Trial Court Branch 87 Judge Angelo Perez and all persons under his direct supervision were ordered “to cease and desist from enforcing or continuing to enforce and implement” previous orders and the writ of execution that paved the way for Esquivel to assume the position.

On Dec. 22, 2020, Austria stepped down from her post following an order from the court and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to vacate her office.

This after the RTC declared Austria’s 2019 proclamation null and void following Esquivel’s election protest.

In its Dec. 7, 2020 ruling, the court said that based on a manual recount, Esquivel won the elections with 18,737 votes against Austria’s more than 14,000 votes.

But in 2019, the municipal board of canvassers declared Austria the winner after she garnered 20,815 votes while Esquivel obtained 18,461.

In a video message on Wednesday (Jan. 13), Austria thanked her supporters and the Comelec for “upholding the rule of law.”

Esquivel has yet to comment but gave hints that his camp might file a motion for reconsideration of the Comelec order.