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Sitting Jaen mayor vetoes SB reso recognizing rival mayor

JAEN, Nueva Ecija – Citing that it is “ultra vires” (Latin: “beyond the powers“) and prejudicial to public welfare, court-installed municipal mayor Antonio Prospero Esquivel vetoed the five local legislations passed by the town council recognizing Sylvia C. Austria as the legitimate mayor.

In his two-page veto message dated January 28, 2021, Esquivel said: ”By virtue of the power vested in me by law as the municipal mayor of Jaen, Nueva Ecija , I do hereby veto the entirety of the following Resolutions pursuant to sections 54 and 55 of the Local Government Code of the Philippines for being ultra vires and contrary to law.

Vetoed by Esquivel were SB Resolution Nos. 015, 016, 017, 018 and 019, Series of 2021, which were all approved by the SB during its regular session held in Bgy. San Josef last Jan. 25.

The vetoed SB resolution No. 15-2021 referred to the body’s “respecting the status quo ante order of the Commission on Elections upholding the rule of law and recognizing the assumption to office by the legitimate mayor of Jaen, Nueva Ecija, Hon. Sylvia C. Austria.

I would like to remind you that the status quo ante order that you have been harping on, time and again, in the vetoed resolutions, is indeed void ab initio,” Esquivel stressed.

In an interview at his office yesterday, Esquivel reiterated that this move by the Jaen SB can be described as “treading on dangerous ground.” “Isang mapanganib na resolusyon na magiging daan upang sila ay matanggal sa pamamagitan ng hukuman,” he added.

In his veto message, Esquivel warned that “these concerted efforts recognizing and authorizing Mrs. Austria to perform the functions of the municipal mayor through the enactment of the vetoed SB resolutions is not only an illegal act amounting to multiple criminal and administrative offenses, but also an attack to a duly constituted authority and an attempt to destabilize the operation of the Local Government of Jaen, Nueva Ecija under my administration to the detriment and prejudice of the people of Jaen, Nueva Ecija.

Copies of Esquivel’s veto were furnished to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Nueva Ecija, Department of Interior and Local Government-Regional Office 3, and their depository bank, Land Bank of the Philippines-San Isidro branch, it was learned.

Esquivel’s veto message was issued on Thursday or three days after a near-violent clash occurred between his group and Austria’s camp after the latter’s group forced their way inside the padlocked gates of the town hall using a vault cutter and tried to serve copies of the now-vetoed SB resolutions.

Meanwhile, the SB held a regular session in Bgy. Sapang on Feb. 1 but it did not push through due to lack of quorum with only SB Secretary Alex Valentino Garcia and Councilor Antonio Ocampo reportedly present.