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SC orders judge to explain existence of ‘two mayors’ in Nueva Ecija town

THE Supreme Court (SC) has ordered a judge in Nueva Ecija to answer an administrative complaint on allegations that he issued court orders that paved the way for the town of Jaen to have two mayors, which resulted in political instability.

In an order issued by Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez, Cabanatuan City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Angelo C. Perez was required to answer charges of gross misconduct, gross incompetence, and gross ignorance of the law filed by Mayor Sylvia C. Austria of Jaen, Nueva Ecija.

In a 59-page Verified Complaint, Austria questioned the legality of Perez’s writ of execution, claiming that she did not receive a copy of the ruling, hence, deprived her the right to appeal the case.

The writ, among other things, ordered Austria to vacate her post. This resulted to former town mayor Antonio Prospero Esquivel assuming the position.

Austria claimed that Perez “ordered the transfer of the ballot boxes and election materials from the Hall of Justice of Gapan City to the Office of the City Election Officer located at the City Hall…without prior notice to the complainant.

Respondent judge ordered the immediate transfer of ballots without prior notice to the complainant, and due regard to the administrative circulars issued by the Supreme Court, pertaining to the operating hours of the courts,” Austria said.

In his order, Perez ruled that Austria’s proclamation as winner was null and void, after concluding that Esquivel garnered 18,737 votes to take the lead.

Austria’s total votes were not reflected in the order, a copy of which was posted on the hall’s bulletin board. But in her proclamation in May 2019, the municipal board of canvassers said Austria got 20,815 votes while Esquivel received 18,461 votes.