Rosal stays as SC issues status quo order on Legazpi’s mayoralty row
MANILA, Philippines–Mayor Carmen Geraldine Rosal will stay in office for the time being after the Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday issued a status quo ante order (SQAO) on the mayoralty race in Legazpi City in Albay.
A status quo ante order means the preservation of the last actual, peaceable, and uncontested situation before the controversy, which, in this case, is the setup before the disqualification of Mayor Rosal.
SQAO also means the proclamation of second placer Alfredo Garbin Jr. as city mayor is put on hold.
Mayor Rosal defeated Garbin by a narrow margin of less than 1,000 votes in the 2022 elections.
“The Supreme Court en banc deemed it necessary and proper to issue a status quo ante order requiring the parties to observe the status quo prevailing before the issuance of the Comelec resolutions dated October 4, 2022, and May 4, 2023,” the SC said.
The Comelec resolutions disqualified Rosal as the candidate for mayor of Legazpi City in the 2022 polls. They directed the special city board of canvassers to proclaim Garbin Jr. as the duly elected mayor.
SC required the poll body, Garbin, Rosal, Joseph San Agustin Armogila, and Oscar Robert Cristobal, to file their comments within a “non-extendible period of ten days from notice.”
Armogila, a candidate for city councilor in last year’s election, filed a petition seeking the disqualification of Rosal on the grounds of vote buying under Section 68 (A) of the Omnibus Election Code.
He also charged Rosal for alleged violation of the prohibition on release, disbursement and expenditure of public funds under the law.
In a resolution dated May 4, 2023, Comelec en banc held that Rosal should be disqualified as a candidate for mayor of Legazpi city for “giving money to influence, induce, or corrupt voters,” in violation of the Omnibus Election Code.
The case filed by Armogila stemmed from a Facebook post on March 31, 2022, about a Tricycle Driver’s Cash Assistance Payout, which coincided with the 45-day ban on releasing public funds.
The post thanked Rosal for the activity and tagged her as “Mayor Gie Rosal” even if she was not an incumbent mayor then.
The mayor of Legazpi City then was Rosal’s husband, Noel.
The poll body held that “the cash assistance payout was an activity intended to induce the voters to vote for herein respondent likewise became more manifest with the display of election paraphernalia during the said event.”