37 supporters of Lanao Norte pol nabbed for takeover of town hall
KAUSWAGAN, Lanao del Norte – Supporters of Florante Capitan — who earlier claimed he was the rightful mayor of Kauswagan after the Supreme Court unseated Rommel Arnado in August 2015 for being a US citizen — briefly took over the town hall on Monday before being arrested.
Senior Supt. Madid Paitao, Lanao del Norte police director, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that in all, the police arrested 37 supporters of Capitan and former provincial board member Casan Maquiling, for forcibly taking over the town hall.
“The supporters of Casan Maquiling and Florante Capitan were neutralized by the PNP personnel with the support of military forces around 7:20 p.m. Monday,” Paitao said.
He said those arrested have been locked up in various detention facilities here and in the towns of Bacolod, Maigo and Kolambugan “since they cannot be accommodated in the provincial jail located in Pigcarangan in Tubod (town).”
The Philippine Daily Inquirer learned that lawyer Dean Quijano, one of the legal counsels of Arnado filed a sedition case against the 37 political supporters.
Quijano accused the rival camp of preventing officials from carrying their functions and hampering the delivery of basic services to residents of the town.
On Monday, Maquiling and Capitan’s supporters barged into, and occupied the town hall anew despite resistance put up by supporters of Arnado. They failed in their previous attempt to take over the town hall in February.
Their mission was also to boot out the supporters of Arnado from the town hall so that Capitan could take over as mayor.
Arnado has been defying the August 2015 Supreme Court order unseating him as mayor because he said the decision was not final yet, and that he had filed a motion for reconsideration.
Capitan, Arnado’s rival in the 2013 elections, thinks that the decision ousting Arnado has paved the way for him to seat as the rightful mayor of the town.
Maquiling, whom Arnado had also trashed in the 2010 mayoral elections, said the Supreme Court has issued a new order already and it maintained its earlier decision that Arnado, a US citizen, was not fit to run in previous elections.
Maquiling said this meant that Capitan could now sit as mayor.
“We did not receive the Writ of Execution from the Supreme Court, which is supposed to be served by the Department of the Interior and Local Government in Region 10,” Arnado said in radio interview.
But Quijano said they were banking on the recent decision of the Supreme Court on the case of Senator Grace Poe.
“The case of Poe might work in favor of Arnado because they had the same issue, citizenship,” he said.
But Maquiling said the Supreme Court ruling on Poe’s case was different. “Although Arnado renounced his US citizenship, he had used his American passport even when elected mayor. Poe no longer used her American passport after she renounced her US citizenship,” Maquiling said in rejecting Quijano’s argument.
Meanwhile, Paitao said normalcy has already been restored at the town hall and that it had been cleared of protesters.
He said policemen had also been posted at the town hall to prevent a similar takeover in the future. SFM