MANILA, Philippines - Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has invoked her authority to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO), on her own, preventing the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from unseating reelectionist Imus, Cavite Mayor Emmanuel L. Maliksi of the Liberal Party.
In a 2-page order, dated October 11, the Sereno-issued TRO directed the poll body "to refrain from further proceeding with or implementing" its resolution dated Sept. 14, 2012 that declared Maliksi's erstwhile rival in the May 2010 mayoralty race, Homer T. Saquilayan, as the duly elected mayor of the city after it made an audit of the votes in clustered precincts subject of the latter's protest against the former.
The Comelec resolution, dated Aug. 15, reversed the decision of the Imus Trial Court that annulled Saquilayan's proclamation as mayor.
Maliksi filed a petition with the high court on Oct. 2, with application for issuance of a TRO, urging the high court to reverse the Comelec ruling.
Maliksi and Saquilayan have both filed their respective certificates of candidacy and will again face off in the 2013 polls for the Imus mayoralty post.
According to well-placed ABS-CBN sources, the justice-in-charge of the Maliksi petition is Associate Justice Antonio Carpio who had not recommended, so far, the issuance of a TRO.
The Sereno-issued TRO, which has no fixed period, has to be confirmed by the court en banc.
Sereno had received flak for not invoking this same authority in the case of several petitions against Republic Act (RA) No. 10175, also known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act, an issue of national significance and involving the basic and fundamental rights of freedom of speech, of expression, the right to due process and equal protection, the constitutional guarantee of protection against double jeopardy, separation of powers between the executive and judicial branches, and the right to privacy of communication and correspondences, among others.
Imus Regional Trial Court Judge Cesar Mangrobang declared Maliksi as elected mayor in November 2010 after a court audit, which showed that Maliksi had 665 more votes against Saquilayan.
Saquilayan then made an appeal, and Comelec affirmed the findings of its first division that declared Saquilayan as duly elected mayor in the 2010 elections after a recount of votes.
Maliksi also filed a petition following Comelec’s decision, prompting another audit.
The SC order now allows Maliksi to stay in office. The court said allegations and arguments in the petition filed by Maliksi were considered in the issuance of the TRO.