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Comelec contradicts court on Imus mayoral row

/ 11:09 PM May 10, 2012

The question of who is mayor of Imus, Cavite, continues to hang in the air after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) issued an order reversing a court order that unseated Homer Saquilayan and installed Emmanuel Maliksi as the town mayor.

In a 19-page ruling on Tuesday, the Comelec first division said it was declaring null and void the Cavite court decision that granted a writ to enforce the court’s earlier decision unseating Saquilayan and replacing him with Maliksi.

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The Comelec ruling also said it found that Imus Regional Trial Court Judge Cesar Mangrobang, who issued the Nov. 28 decision, committed “grave abuse of discretion.”

Mangrobang issued a so-called special order granting Maliksi’s petition to be installed as Imus mayor based on results of a manual recount of votes on Nov. 15, 2011.

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The judge ruled that Maliksi, a party mate of President Aquino, won by 665 votes against Saquilayan, a member of the Nacionalista Party, in the 2010 elections.

On Dec. 27, 2011, Mangrobang issued a writ of execution that allowed Maliksi to assume the post.

According to the Comelec ruling, Mangrobang “gravely abused his discretion when he decided to proceed with the recount of the contested ballots without waiting for the digital images despite the glaring evidence of tampering.”

“This act of the public respondent in zealously upholding the rules has no room in election protest cases if the result would deprive the electorate of their leader of choice. Under the pain of repetition, rules of procedure are intended to serve, not override justice,” said the Comelec ruling signed by Commissioner Rene Sarmiento and concurred in by Commissioner Armando C. Velasco. Commissioner Christian Robert S. Lim abstained.

The new Comelec ruling gave Maliksi five days to file a motion for reconsideration.

“We’ll have to wait for five days but we hope to resume office after that period,” Saquilayan said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Saquilayan’s legal counsel, Charles Mercado, said his client was waiting for the Comelec to also decide on a petition that questioned the results of the manual recount.

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The Inquirer tried to reach Maliksi for comments but he was unavailable for an interview.

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TAGS: Comelec, Emmanuel Maliksi, Homer Saquilayan, Imus, Imus mayor
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