Lucena mayoral row: Comelec takes back order
LUCENA CITY—Lucena Mayor Barbara Ruby Talaga reassumed her post on Monday after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) recalled its order last June 17 that ordered her out of office in favor of Vice Mayor Roderick Alcala.
Josapeth Butingan, Comelec chief in Lucena, delivered the Comelec order dated June 27 and signed by Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. to the city mayor’s office. It was received by Talaga’s executive assistant Leny Papa.
The Supreme Court on June 21 issued a status quo ante order that stopped the ouster of Talaga.
Alcala said he would heed the Comelec order. “There’s no problem with that. I’m always ready to return to my old post,” he said.
He said his lawyer would file a petition at the Supreme Court to immediately resolve the main case that nullified the election and proclamation of Talaga as ruled by the Comelec en banc on May 20.
“For the peace of us all and the people of Lucena, we’re praying that the honorable justices decide on the main case as soon as possible,” Alcala said.
Philip Castillo, who lost the mayoral race to Talaga, had filed a separate petition at the Supreme Court to nullify Talaga’s candidacy and oust her, hoping he would take over as mayor.
Castillo had said that since Talaga’s candidacy was found by the Comelec to be defective, it only meant that he ran unopposed and should be declared winner.
He cited a similar case under ex-Comelec chair Jose Melo’s term wherein the Comelec ruled that a candidate who got the second highest number of votes is deemed winner after the candidate with the most votes was disqualified before Election Day.
The Comelec, however, said in its May 20 ruling that Alcala, being vice mayor, should replace the ousted mayor by law of succession. Comelec officials argued that since Castillo got only the second highest number of votes, it meant that he lost.
The Comelec had ruled Barbara’s candidacy to be invalid when she substituted for her husband Ramon who has not withdrawn his certificate of candidacy when Barbara filed her own certificate of candidacy on May 4, 2010.
Ramon sought to run even after he had already reached the limit of three successive terms.
Comelec chair Brillantes, however, submitted a dissenting opinion saying that Barbara’s election was legal although votes credited to her were actually votes for her husband Ramon.
In the final tally, Ramon received 44,099 votes while Castillo got 39,615. Based on existing election laws on substitution, votes cast for Ramon could be considered votes for Barbara.
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