Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ecija town has 2 mayors

ALIAGA, Nueva Ecija – This town now has two mayors.

           This after the camps of Mayor Elizabeth Vargas and her rival, court-declared Mayor Reynaldo Ordanes both declared their hold on the mayorship, triggering a leadership crisis.

          Vargas, who was unseated 10 days ago in an order issued by Regional Trial Court Branch 30 Judge Virgilio Caballero which proclaimed Ordanes by a scant 11 votes, urged her townmates to respect the mandate given by constituents, and maintained she is still the mayor.

          In a streamer hanging in front of the municipal compound, Vargas ended her message with the words “patuloy na naglilingkod (continuously serve),” to indicate she is still in charge.

          The Vargas camp circulated a supposed copy of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) En Banc enjoining Caballero to cease and desist from enforcing and/or implementing or continuing to enforce and implement his June 19 issuance of a writ of execution of his decision pending appeal and Ordanes to cease and desist from assuming the post of mayor.   

          Ordanes’ camp has initially dismissed the TRO, saying it was fake since it was only signed by Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes and not the commissioners.

          The supposed Brillantes order, dated September 23, was later stamped with the words “fake po to (it was fake).”

          Ordanes, in a text message, said he is still the legitimate mayor, adding that by next week, Brillantes’ TRO would be suspended.    

          Last week, Ordanes was declared duly elected winner in the May 2013 elections, ending the Vargas’ 22-year stranglehold in this town.

          Ordanes,  an ally of the Joson’s Nationalist People’s Coalition,  was installed after Cabanatuan City RTC  Branch 30 deputy sheriff Victoria Roque served the writ of execution issued by Caballero to Vargas at the town hall where she  holed herself last week.

          Ordanes, a brother of Quezon City assessor Rodolfo Ordanes, has been holding office in his residential compound “to keep the peace.”

          Vargas, a four-term mayor and wife of former three-term mayor Marcial Vargas, was proclaimed winner by the municipal board of canvassers last year, garnering 11,477 votes to Ordanes’ 11,413, or a scant margin of 64 votes.

          However, Ordanes  filed an election protest before the RTC which examined the votes.

Last May 28, the court voided 72 of Vargas’ votes. It also ruled that three of Ordanes’ votes, which were rejected by the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines , were valid, bringing his vote total to 11,416 while Vargas’ votes were reduced to 11,405 votes after the 72 votes were deducted from her tally, prompting the court to declare Ordanes winner by a plurality of  11 votes.

The June 19 writ of execution was withheld on July 15 after the Comelec issued a TRO enjoining it to cease and desist from enforcing its order for a 60-day period. The TRO expired last September 16, prompting the court to issue another order dated September 17 implementing the writ.

In its September 17 order, the court said Vargas has not produced any evidence to defend her position.

          He was accompanied by his running mate, Vice Mayor Alfredo Domingo and throngs of wildly cheering, loyal supporters. (Manny Galvez)

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