SC Resolves Mayoralty Issue in Mabalacat, Pampanga

May. 10, 2007

MANILA — The Supreme Court has ordered the vice-mayor of Mabalacat, Pampanga to head its local government until June 30, 2007 after it unseated Mabalacat Mayor Marino Boking Morales whom it found ineligible to have run in the 2004 elections. The decision is immediately executory.

In a 15-page unanimous decision penned by Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, the Court granted the petitions of lawyers Venancio Q. Rivera and Normandick De Guzman (Rivera v. Comelec and Morales, GR No. 167591) and cancelled Morales Certificate of Candidacy (COC) dated December 30, 2003.

The Court declared Mabalacat Vice-Mayor Crisostomo Garbo as mayor following the vacancy in the Office of the Mayor in Mabalacat, Pampanga. Garbo will serve the remaining duration of the term July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2007.

The Court also dismissed the petition of mayoral candidate Anthony Dee (Dee v. Comelec and Morales, GR No. 170577) for being moot since Morales was disqualified from continuing to serve as Mabalacat mayor.

The Court said that Morales was mayor for three consecutive terms and is now serving his fourth. Citing Ong v. Alegre, the Court said that the three-term limit rule as provided for in RA 7160 or the Local Government Code applies to Morales. Thus, Morales was not eligible to run for another term in the 2004 elections.

Having found Morales ineligible, the Court said the formers COC for the 2004 elections should also be cancelled per sections 6 and 7 of RA 6646 (The Electoral Reforms Law of 1987).

In light of the foregoing, respondent Morales can not be considered a candidate in the May 2004 elections. Not being a candidate, the votes cast for him should not be counted and must be considered stray votes, the Court said.

Morales ran as candidate for mayor of Mabalacat, Pampanga for the term commencing July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2007.

Petitioners Attys. Venancio Q. Rivera and Normandick De Guzman filed with the Second Division of Comelec a petition to cancel Morales Certificate of Candidacy on the ground that he was elected and had served three previous consecutive terms as Mabalacat mayor

In his defense, Morales admitted he was elected mayor for the term July 1, 1995 to June 30, 1998 (first term) and July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2004 (third term) but served the second term from July 1, 1998 to June 30, 2001 only as a caretaker of the office because he was not validly elected for the second term since his proclamation as mayor was declared void by the Angeles City RTC, Branch 57

But the Court was not convinced. It noted that that Morales is now serving his fourth term and has been Mabalacat mayor continuously without any break since July 1, 1995.

Concurring were Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, Senor Associate Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing, and Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, Antonio T. Carpio, Conchita Carpio Morales, Adolfo S. Azcuna, Dante O. Tinga, Minita V. Chico-Nazario, and Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. Justices Tinga and Velasco wrote separate concurring opinions.
Justices Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez and Renato C. Corona were on leave, while Justice Cancio C. Garcia and Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura did not take part. (Rivera v. Comelec and Morales, GR No. 167591; Dee v. Comelec and Morales, GR No. 170577, May 9, 2007)

****** INBOX is an archive of press releases, statements, announcements, letters to the editors, and manifestos sent to Davao Today for publication. Please email your materials to Davao Today reserves the right to edit or refuse material for publication. *****

comments powered by Disqus