SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – Paniqui, Tarlac Mayor Miguel Rivilla – a cousin of President Aquino – reassumed the post yesterday amid tension sparked by a Commission on Elections (Comelec) order that nullified its earlier decision on the town’s leadership issue.
Last Nov. 12, the Comelec nullified a ruling by a visiting judge at the Paniqui regional trial court declaring Rommel David as mayor.
The judge’s order was based on a manual recount of ballots that invalidated over 3,000 votes for Rivilla.
David assumed the post and held office on the second floor of the municipal hall.
The Comelec order prompted Rivilla’s supporters to gather at the municipal hall ground, forcing David to step down.
But on Nov. 28, the poll body issued another resolution, stating that David could stay on as mayor as he filed a motion for reconsideration of the Comelec decision.
The latest order confused supporters of the two politicians, prompting Rivilla’s followers to gather anew at the town hall.
“We respect the Comelec. But when its statements confuse issues, people can’t help but question its position on the truth and the legality of its action,” said Manly Garcia, a supporter of Rivilla.
Rivilla returned to the mayor’s office after his 60-day preventive suspension by the provincial board lapsed.
He designated Vice Mayor Socorro Linsao as acting mayor while he was serving his suspension, which was based on a case filed by David’s wife, a member of the board.
The case stemmed from Rivilla’s order to use local funds to pay the salaries of workers of the Paniqui District Hospital without first seeking the board’s approval.
Rivilla has filed an urgent motion questioning the Comelec’s latest ruling. He asked the poll body to decide on his motion in order to ease the tension in the town.
As of yesterday, David had made no move to return to the municipal hall. – With Ric Sapnu
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