SC Court Administrator orders Nueva Ecija judge to explain ‘illegal orders’
MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Court Administrator of the Supreme Court has ordered a judge in Nueva Ecija province to explain why he issued “illegal orders” that practically paved the way for Jaen town to have two mayors, resulting in political tension in the rice-producing municipality.
In a single-page order, Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez directed Judge Angelo Perez of Gapan City Regional Trial Branch 87 to answer the complaint filed against him by Mayor Sylvia Austria, who was reinstated to her post by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Jan. 12.
“Preferential attention on this matter is expected,” Marquez told Perez in his Dec. 3, 2020, order, a copy of which was made available to the media only on Wednesday.
The order stemmed from Austria’s allegation that Perez committed gross misconduct and gross ignorance of the law when he granted the election protest filed by former Mayor Antonio Prospero Esquivel.
Austria stepped down from office on Dec. 21, 2020, in deference to the order from the Department of the Interior and Local Government, saying she wanted to maintain peace and order in the town.
Esquivel quickly took over after Perez signed a resolution declaring him the winner of the mayoral race based on a manual recount of votes.
The Comelec, however, issued a status quo ante order setting aside Perez’s ruling and reinstating Austria as the duly-elected town mayor.
Esquivel reacted by ignoring the Comelec order. He refused to step down, leaving Jaen with two mayors.
Austria also asked the high tribunal to penalize branch clerk of court Maureen R. Genetiano-Pabaira and branch sheriff Jorge L. Battung for allegedly falsifying official documents to make it appear that her lawyer had secured a copy of the ruling when her camp did not get one.
“[Perez] failed to observe the integrity expected of him as a magistrate and member of the bar,” Austria said in her complaint.
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