Wife of jailed Batangas town mayor to assume his post

Arnell Ozaeta, ABS-CBN News Southern Tagalog

BATANGAS - Mataas Na Kahoy Vice Mayor-elect Janet Ilagan will assume the position of her husband, Jay, as town mayor if the embattled chief executive remains detained over his rape case by June 30.

Noel Bartolabac, provincial director of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in Batangas, said Janet will take Jay's place in an acting capacity if he will not be available to assume his post by the end of June.

Janet won the vice mayoralty race by garnering 7,478 votes against her closest rival, Henry Laqui's 4,892 votes and Puto Dimaano's 564 votes.

Jay also won the mayoralty race despite the cancellation of his certificate of candidacy (COC). He got 7,041 votes against Gual Silva's 5,718 votes and Mel Regalado's 272 votes.

Just a few days before the May 9 polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) 2nd Division cancelled the COC of Ilagan for "misrepresentation."

"Considering that the respondent was a fugitive from justice, he possessed a disqualification expressly stated under the law. This renders his misrepresentation in his COC that he is eligible for the office of mayor of Mataas Na Kahoy, Batangas undoubtedly false," the decision signed by Commissioners Al ParreƱo, Arthur Lim and Sheriff Abas read.

Mataas Na Kahoy election officer Eric Ebite, however, said Jay was still proclaimed the winner in the polls since he still has a pending appeal before the Comelec en banc.

"Meron pang mahigit isang buwan si Mayor Ilagan para maklaro sa kanyang kaso. Pero pag hindi siya nakabalik, ang vice mayor o ang kanyang asawa ang aakto bilang mayor batay sa Local Government Code," Bartolabac explained.

Ilagan has been detained in Ormoc City while being tried at the Regional Trial Court for a rape case filed by a 19-year-old woman.