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Comelec directs DILG to enforce status quo ante order reinstating Austria

JAEN, Nueva Ecija – The Commission on Elections’ Second Division on Wednesday issued a show-cause order against sitting municipal mayor Antonio Prospero Esquivel directing him to explain within five days why he should not be cited for contempt for his refusal to obey a lawful order of the Commission’s Second Division, a radio report said.

Presiding Commissioner Socorro B. Inting, of the poll body’s Second Division, also directed the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) through Central Luzon regional director Julie J. Daquioag to implement within three days the January 12 status quo ante order (SQAO) directing sitting mayor Esquivel to peacefully turn over the subject post to Austria.

This order by the poll body’s Second Division was reported over DZRH teleradio on Wednesday night.

The poll body’s SQAO was earlier issued on January 12 reinstating Austria to her previous post and tasking both parties to maintain the status quo prevailing prior to Gapan City regional trial court judge Angelo C. Perez’s issuance of a ruling declaring Esquivel as the winner in his 2019 election protest case against Austria.

The said Comelec order was an offshoot of Austria’s petition for certiorari and prohibition with extremely urgent prayer for issuance of a temporary restraining order and or status quo ante order and or prohibitory injunction.

However, this SQAO by the poll body was not implemented immediately after Esquivel questioned its legality and refused to relinquish the post to Austria.

Esquivel claimed that the poll body’s order could not supersede the RTC decision in favor of his election protest case.

This led to a political impasse wherein two mayors are vying for the town’s top post.

The issuance of the latest Comelec ruling came nine days after a near-clash occurred between both opposing political camps when Austria’s group barged their way inside the town hall and tried to serve copies of local legislations passed by the Sangguniang Bayan recognizing Austria as the town’s legitimate mayor.

Publication Source :    People's Tonight
Steve A. Gosuico
Past President, Nueva Ecija Press Club, Inc.