Comelec stops Palace order unseating Laguna mayor

By Non Alquitran, The Philippine Star

Posted at Apr 29 2013 07:27 AM | Updated as of Apr 29 2013 03:27 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has stopped the implementation of an order issued by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. removing Mayor Calixto Cataquiz of San Pedro, Laguna from his post.

In a three-page resolution dated April 24, the Comelec denied the request of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), through Undersecretary Austere Panadero, for approval to implement Ochoa’s order dated April 5.

According to the Comelec, both the Election Code and Resolution 9581 are clear that the suspension of elective provincial, city, municipal and barangay officials is prohibited unless prior authority from the Comelec is secured, and the suspension will be for the purposes of applying the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

“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 poll body’s resolution stated.

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

“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,” he added.

Since Ochoa’s order came out, Cataquiz’ supporters had held protest actions, vowing to block any move to unseat him.

San Pedro town is now preparing for its cityhood. President Aquino recently signed the town’s cityhood charter. – With Ed Amoroso