May 26, 2024

The issue of who should be recognized mayor of Paracelis in Mountain Province has reached the court, as three people now claim as the legitimate chief executive of the second-class town.

Pending the Commission on Elections’ issuance of a decision regarding the cancellation of the certificate of candidacy of elected mayor Avelino Amangyen, the Department of the Interior and Local Government has directed Vice Mayor Djarma Rafael to sit as acting mayor – a move that former mayor Marcos Ayangwa contests.

Ayangwa recently filed at the Bontoc regional trial court a petition to annul Amangyen’s proclamation and to issue a temporary restraining order, and preliminary or permanent injunction that will prevent the proclaimed mayor and/or Rafael from assuming as mayor or acting mayor.

The same petition will hold the DILG and Municipal Local Government Office from implementing its order that appointed Rafael to assume in an acting capacity.

On June 29 and July 1, Ayangwa also wrote the DILG central office asking for the issuance of a contrary opinion to the opinion of its regional office.

In his letter and in the court petition, Ayangwa said he should be the duly proclaimed mayor as Amangyen’s votes are considered stray owing to his disqualification prior to the elections.

Ayangwa said Amangyen’s name should not have been included in the official ballot, that votes cast for his contender should not have been counted, and the Comelec should not have proclaimed the latter as the winner.

Amangyen, who won against Ayangwa in the May 9 elections, took his oath before Punong Barangay Zaldy Guileng of Nangalisan, Tuba, Benguet on June 28.

But regardless of Amangyen’s taking of oath, the DILG maintains there is a temporary vacancy in the mayoralty post and by way of succession should be occupied by the next ranking elected official, which is the vice mayor.

DILG-CAR Attorney IV Genevieve Shontogan said Amangyen’s taking of oath and subsequent designation of Edward Sullay as his municipal administrator are immaterial as the fact remains that his COC has been cancelled.

She added the parties involved should wait for the decision of the Comelec and pending that, there should be an acting mayor so as not to disrupt delivery of public service.

Citing the Local Government Code, Shontogan said an acting mayor has the same functions and duties as that of a mayor except the power to appoint, suspend, or dismiss employees, which may only be done if the period of temporary vacancy exceeds 30 working days. – Rimaliza A. Opiña