THE poll body said Monday the writ of execution it issued declaring Roberto “Obet” Pagdanganan as the winner in the 2007 gubernatorial race in Bulacan has to be executed before Pagdanganan can claim his position.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc earlier ordered incumbent Governor Joselito Mendoza to vacate his post after siding with the decision of the poll body's second division declaring Pagdanganan as the rightful governor of the province.

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“If the writ was not implemented, (the governor) is still Mendoza. If it is implemented, it's Pagdanganan. The writ has to be implemented for Pagdanganan to sit,” said Comelec chairman Jose Melo.

Mendoza meanwhile has taken his case to the High Court seeking a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to prevent Pagdanganan to assume office.

“That's up to the Supreme Court (SC) to appreciate. Wala na tayong masasabi dun. It's now up to the Supreme Court,” said Melo of Mendoza’s move.

Tension soared at the Provincial Capitol Monday morning after supporters of the unseated governor tried to stop Comelec officials and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to enforce the writ of execution.

One supporter of Mendoza reportedly ripped a part of the writ of execution posted on the wall of the Provincial Capitol.

Melo called the act of the supporter an affront to the commission.

“The act of disobedience to the writ is punishable but I don't know if the ripping of it is also punishable,” noted Melo.

But Melo declined to elaborate further on the case of Mendoza and Pagdanganan since he took no part in the decision of the en banc.

In an order issued by the en banc last week, it has instructed the Electoral Contests Adjudication Department (Ecad) to issue the corresponding writ of execution directing the Provincial Election Supervisor of Bulacan to implement the December 1 resolution of the second division.

“Applying the provision of Rule 18, Section 6 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure, the Second Division's Resolution, dated December 1, 2009, denying protestee's Motion for Reconsideration and granting protestant's Motion for Immediate Execution is hereby affirmed,” the order signed March 4, 2010 cited.

Mendoza’s petition

Mendoza on Monday asked the Supreme Court (SC) anew to issue a TRO against the implementation of the Comelec resolution declaring Pagdanganan as duly-elected governor of Bulacan.

Last February 16, Mendoza failed to obtain a TRO from the High Court after it found no urgency in granting such relief to petitioner.

In his 16-page supplemental position, Mendoza through lawyer Sixto Brillantes sought a TRO in order to maintain the status quo in the province so as to prevent bloodshed during a standoff between their supporters’ camps.

Mendoza also sought an order from the Court compelling Pagdanganan to cease and desist from “usurping, assuming and performing the functions of the contested position” until the election protest has been ruled with finality by the SC.

The supplemental petition was filed on the day Pagdanganan was supposed to take over the reins of the Provincial Capitol.

Assailed in the supplemental petition was the writ of execution of the Comelec Second Division’s resolution dated March 5 declaring that Pagdanganan may already assume the functions of governor, causing grave and irreparable damage to him and to Bulacan electorate.

Mendoza claimed that his ouster was similar to those of Isabela Governor Grace Padaca and Pampanga Governor Ed Panlilio who, just like him, were opposition governors belonging to the Liberal Party.

He said the Comelec en banc denied his motion for reconsideration, and in order to make the decision instantly executory, also granted the motion for execution pending the motion for reconsideration, “most abnormal because there is no more pending motion for reconsideration.”

“There is something terribly wrong in the adjudication of the above case – both in the division level and in the en banc for which the honorable court should not allow to bear any further illicit consequences through the immediate issuance of a temporary restraining order/status quo ante order," Mendoza said.

Padaca and Panlilio's appeal is still pending before the seven-man Comelec en banc, three members of which are the members of the Comelec Second Division namely Nicodemo Ferrer, Lucenito Tagle, and Elias Yusoph.

In Mendoza’s case, he said the three who railroaded their earlier ruling for Pagdanganan also stood by their division ruling when the case reached the Comelec en banc.

Four other members of the Comelec en banc took no part in the ruling in Mendoza's case, namely Comelec Chairman Jose Melo and First Division members Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal and Armando Velasco. A seventh magistrate filed a dissenting opinion, Commissioner Rene Sarmiento.

Mendoza said under Rule 18, Section 6 of the Comelec’s rules of procedure, as pointed out in Sarmiento's dissent, since no majority was reached, the election protest filed against him by Pagdanganan “should have been dismissed after no majority vote was obtained by the respondent (Pagdanganan) after rehearing.”

“The dire consequence of the three Comelec Second Division commissioners... is the feared domino effect on two more gubernatorial protests already resolved by the very same second division, and currently awaiting resolution before the Comelec en banc,” Mendoza said, referring to the pending cases of Panlilio and Padaca. (Kathrina Alvarez/JCV/Sunnex)