MABALACAT CITY -- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has proclaimed former Pampanga First District Board Member Crisostomo Garbo as mayor of this city.
Garbo, who got the second highest votes next to Mayor Marino Morales during the 2016 mayoral race, was proclaimed around 3 p.m. at the central office of Comelec in Intramuros, Manila Tuesday, June 28.
Morales, on June 19, relinquished his post following a cease and desist order (CDO) implemented by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in connection to the mayor’s disqualification in the last election.
READ: Mabalacat City mayor steps down
Garbo, however, failed to assume office Tuesday after the Regional Trial Court issued on Tuesday morning a 72-hour Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in favor of Vice Mayor Christian Halili who replaced Morales by virtue of succession.
The DILG earlier ordered the implementation of the poll body’s en banc resolution cancelling Morales’ certificate of candidacy from the last elections.
The Comelec stated that Morales was disqualified in the 2016 elections after serving three successive terms as mayor, the maximum allowed by law.
Garbo urged the people of Mabalacat to unite and maintain peace amid the change in the city’s leadership. “In God’s guidance, may I serve as an instrument of peace and unity in our beloved city.”
The disqualification case against Morales was filed by Pyra Lucas, who had landed fourth in the mayoral elections.
In her DQ case dated January 4, 2016, Lucas alleged that Morales could no longer run in the 2016 elections since he had already been elected and served for three consecutive terms for the same position from 2007 to 2013.
On May 20, 2016, Garbo filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene and to Admit Attached Petitioner-in-Intervention. He alleged that he was “vitally interested in and will be affected by the outcome of the instant case.” According to Garbo, Morales was ineligible to run as mayor of Mabalacat City because he was constitutionally barred in serving his fourth consecutive terms.
Garbo claimed that he should be proclaimed as the mayor should Morales’ COC be cancelled because he obtained the second highest number of votes in the 2016 elections.
On August 8, 2016, Morales sought reconsideration of the Comelec First Division resolution. The mayor claimed that the Comelec First Division erred in cancelling his COC despite the fact that there was no prior authoritative finding by a competent authority that he violated the three-term limit rule.
Morales stated that the Commission First Division also erred for not dismissing Lucas’ DQ case despite its procedural defects – It was filed out of time and it lacked a certification against forum shopping.
Morales claimed that he is qualified to run because the general status of the city has changed following its conversion into a component city.
He insisted that the Congress has intended to include the area of Clark Freeport as part of Mabalacat City and that the residents of the economic zone became registered voters of the city.
But the Comelec First Division disfavored Morales’claims. The Comelec En Banc stated in its May 26, 2017 that the decision of Commission First Division is correct.
“The Petitioner-Intervenor (Garbo), being the qualified mayoralty candidate with the highest number of votes should be proclaimed,” the Comelec En Banc stated.