Kauswagan mayor’s supporters ‘guard’ town hall

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Saturday, May 11, 2013


KAUSWAGAN, Lanao del Norte -- Hundreds of people held vigil at the town hall here since Tuesday to show support for embattled Mayor Rommel Arnado who is facing possible ouster after the Supreme Court (SC) recently ruled as invalid his candidacy during the 2010 polls.

Arnado’s supporters started massing outside the town hall Tuesday afternoon when the SC ruling became public. By Wednesday morning, new batches of supporters replaced those who ‘guarded’ the town hall through the night.

By midday, more people joined, some coming from the hinterland villages.

“The people were caught by surprise with the Supreme Court decision. I think they are not yet prepared to see Arnado gone from his post,” said local journalist Angel Estrella who is also Kauswagan town resident.

In an April 16 ruling, the Supreme Court voided Arnado’s candidacy for the 2010 general elections on account of him having dual citizenships, that of Filipino and American.

The Local Government Code of 1991 bars persons with dual citizenship from running for local elective seats. Upon voiding Arnado’s candidacy, the Supreme Court ruled that Casan Maquiling is the rightful winner of the 2010 mayoral race.

Minus Arnado, Maquiling garnered the most number of votes among the six bets contesting Kauswagan’s mayoral post that time.

In light of the ruling, Maquiling, a former Provincial Board member who is seeking the gubernatorial seat come May 13 as Liberal Party bet, told Sun.Star in a text message that he is preparing “to assume as mayor of Kauswagan as soon as possible.”

The en banc ruling states that the decision “is immediately executory.”

But Arnado said he is not vacating the Mayor’s Office anytime soon as he has not received any notice or order from the Department of the Interior and Local Government telling him to do so.

He related that it was also only on Tuesday that his lawyers received a hard copy of the decision although it was available online in the SC website.

“I am definitely filing a motion for reconsideration. At the earliest, it would be filed on Thursday,” said Arnado, the Liberal Party’s bet for town mayor.

“I therefore appeal to my opponents in this case to respect the legal process so that we avoid rocking the situation,” he added.

Arnado, a pilot by profession, assumed office in 2010 amid high local expectations he will engineer the war-torn town’s development take off.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 11, 2013.

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