JAEN, Nueva Ecija – “It’s all peaceful and quiet as business remains usual here at the town hall.”
Thus stressed court-installed Mayor Antonio Prospero L. Esquivel on Thursday as he said that everything is normal here despite a press statement coming from the rival camp of ousted Mayor Sylvia C. Austria for him “to peacefully turn over the mayorship” due to a January 12 “cease and desist” order emanating from the Commission on Elections’ (COMELEC) Second Division.
The poll body’s order earlier granted Austria’s petition and issued a 60-day status quo ante order, effectively reinstating her to her previous post as town mayor. It also directed the Gapan City regional trial court branch 87 to cease and desist from enforcing and implementing previous issued orders including the writ of execution that paved the way for Esquivel’s mayoral assumption.
“Wala, walang gulo dito, normal ang operations ng munisipyo, tahimik. Kahit si PD Saro nagtatanong, pupunta daw dito, wala siyang makikitang problema,’ Esquivel told the Journal Group in an exclusive interview. The mayor was referring to provincial police director Col. Marvin Joe C. Saro, who reportedly gave word that he would pay a visit to check on the town’s peace and order situation.
Reacting to the said Comelec order, Esquivel, who is now on his 29th day as the new mayor, described the order as “very unusual” since the court order installing him as the duly-elected mayor had already become final and executory in the absence of a motion for reconsideration or appeal filed by his rival in relation to the said court decision.
“Ano pa ba ang i-t-tro ng Comelec eh nai-serve na, implemented na ang court order noong isang buwan pa, naiserve na ng court sheriff iyung writ of execution at meron pang notice of finality ang RTC Branch 87 sa aking election protest case kung saan nanalo ako,” explained Esquivel.
He also believes that the decision of Gapan City Regional Trial Court Judge Angelo C. Perez, installing him as the winner in the 2019 mayoral polls, cannot be overturned by the poll body just like that.
Despite these legal remedies put up by his rival, Esquivel, who previously served as municipal mayor from 2005-2007, vowed to challenge them all the way up to the Supreme Court.
Aside from filing a motion for reconsideration before the poll body, the mayor said his lawyers would also file a petition for prohibition before the SC to question the authority of the Comelec in issuing a TRO/status quo ante-order/and or preliminary injunction, which in effect would unseat him and reinstate his rival mayor.
Earlier, Austria’s camp issued a statement that she is waiting for the Department of Interior and Local Government to act on the order of the poll body for her reinstatement to her previous post.
On Wednesday, Austria also thanked her supporters and the electoral body for upholding the rule of law.