Lucena mayoral row ain’t over; unseated exec to appeal fate
LUCENA CITY—The unseated mayor of this city is not giving up her fight to keep her post, saying she would appeal to higher courts a Commission on Elections ruling stripping her of her position because her candidacy last year was invalid.
In a decision dated May 20, the Comelec ordered Ruby Talaga to vacate her post and instructed her vice mayor, Roderick Alcala, to take over.
The Comelec said Talaga’s candidacy was invalid as she had merely taken the place of her husband, former Mayor Ramon Talaga, who filed his candidacy for a fourth term, which isn’t allowed by law.
The Talaga couple said they would appeal the Comelec decision in the Supreme Court. They said it was the result of “political influence” of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and the Liberal Party (LP).
Roderick Alcala is nephew of the agriculture secretary and also member of the LP, the political party of President Aquino and his defeated running mate Mar Roxas.
Secretary Alcala strongly denied the accusation. He said if Barbara’s election as mayor was legal and valid, no amount of influence can unseat her.
The youngest son of the Talaga couple, No. 1 Councilor Ramil Talaga, will replace Roderick Alcala as vice mayor.
The Comelec annulled the election and proclamation of Barbara and cancelled the certificate of canvass that declared her winner in the May 10, 2010 elections.
The en banc ruling reversed a decision by the Comelec’s second division in January upholding the victory of Barbara. It also ruled in favor of a petition made by Roderick Alcala to be declared mayor under the rule of succession for local officials.
Ramon Talaga said his lawyer would soon file a petition at the Supreme Court to stop the enforcement of the Comelec decision.
Five commissioners—Rene Sarmiento, Lucenito Tagle, Armando Velasco, Elias Yusoph and Christian Robert Lim—voted to unseat Barbara and be replaced by Roderick Alcala.
Commissioner Augusto Lagman did not take part in the deliberation of the case.
Comelec Chief Sixto Brillantes Jr., an election lawyer, dissented and expressed support for Barbara, saying voters knew on election day that Ramon was disqualified from seeking a fourth term and was replaced by his wife and still decided to vote for Barbara.
The camp of Roderick Alcala said it would file a petition for a writ of execution of the Comelec order to force authorities to enforce it.
Barbara, in an address to her supporters, said: “I am still your mayor.”
Results of the elections showed at least 44,099 voters still cast their ballots for Ramon. Based on current laws on substitution, votes garnered by Ramon would be credited to Barbara.