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Comelec resolution defuses tension in San Pedro, Laguna

San Pedro, Laguna­—Mayor Calixto Cataquiz lauded the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for its quick action in stopping the implementation of an order issued by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. removing him from his elective post as it instantly restored normalcy in the town.

Cataquiz thanked the Comelec for “quickly resolving the issue that put an end to the political crisis that has disturbed peace and order in San Pedro for three weeks now.”

In its three-page en banc Resolution 9680 dated April 24, 2013, the Comelec denied the request of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) through Undersecretary  Austere A. Panadero for approval to implement the Ochoa Order dated April 5, 2013. 

The resolution was unanimously approved and signed by Comelec Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes, and Commissioners Lucenito N. Tagle, Elias R. Yusoph, Christian Robert S. Lim and Ma. Gracia Cielo M. Padaca.

The election body pointed out that both the Election Code and Resolution 9581 are clear: the suspension of elective provincial, city, municipal and barangay officer is prohibited, unless prior authority from the Comelec is secured, and that the suspension will be for the purpose of applying the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.  Both conditions must be complied with before the suspension may be implemented.

 “In the present case, the penalty is removal of Mayor Cataquiz—a penalty graver than suspension—pursuant to an administrative case, as ruled upon by the Office of the President. As such the Commission cannot extend to the DILG the authority to implement the penalty of removal,” the Comelec ruled.

 “Clearly, the Comelec upholds both the rule of law and our people’s mandate, and respects the constitutional process of election and our people’s right to choose their leaders,” Cataquiz said.

Residents held protest actions since the Ochoa Order came out, and vowed to defend their mandate and their constitutional right to choose their leaders against dirty political maneuverings.

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