GOVERNOR Eustaquio Bersamin administered the oath of office to Bangued Vice Mayor Allan Seares by virtue of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) giving the go signal to take over the position of Mayor Ryan Luna on Friday afternoon.

In a letter dated May 2, DILG regional director John Castañeda through provincial director Cresencio Calina replied to Seares on his query asking for the opinion of the agency if he could assume office while Luna is temporarily unable to discharge on his official duty.

Luna, together with six other suspects, are wanted for the 2007 murder of Brenda Crisologo, wife of Tineg Mayor Edwin Crisologo.

Seares sought for the opinion of DILG if he can assume the position of municipal mayor in acting capacity until June 30. He also asked DILG for proper procedure and the needed documents to support his assumption into office.

In his reply, Castañeda cited Section 46 of the Local Government Code on the temporary vacancy in the Office of the Local Chief Executive stating, “When municipal mayor is temporarily incapacitated to perform his duties for physical or legal reasons such as, but not limited to, leave of absence, travel abroad, and suspension from office, the municipal vice-mayor shall automatically exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions of the local chief executive concerned, except the power to appoint, suspend, or dismiss employees which can only be exercised if the period of temporary incapacity exceeds thirty working days.”

The Local Government Code also states that “said temporary incapacity shall terminate upon submission to the appropriate sanggunian (Council) of a written declaration by the local chief executive concerned that he has reported back to office. In cases where the temporary incapacity is due to legal causes, the local chief executive concerned shall also submit necessary documents showing that said legal causes no longer exist.”

“We are in the opinion that being the vice-mayor of Bangued, Abra, you could validly assume as acting mayor of the municipality if the mayor is temporarily incapacitated to exercise his powers and perform his duties as local chief executive due to legal or physical reasons,” the DILG director told Seares.

However, the regional director said the duration of his assumption could not categorically last up to June 30.

DILG suggested that Seares first take his oath of office from an administering officer prior to his assumption to office.

The Cordillera police are still on the hunt for the now fugitive Bangued mayor.

Chief Superintendent Benjamin Magalong, Police Regional Office-Cordiller said the Abra Police Provincial office is trying to serve the warrant of arrest against Luna since Monday in his residence in Dangdangla village.

The warrant of arrest was issued by Bangued Regional Trial Court Judge Jaime Dojillo Jr. after a Department of Justice Order approving the petition of Crisologo to implicate the municipal mayor together with six other suspects in the murder of his wife.

Reports reaching the police chief reveal that supporters of Luna have also started to gather in front of the Bangued municipal hall since Monday.

The Cordillera police chief said the mayor, however, remains in contact with the Abra police for a possible surrender.

Luna’s mother, former Representative Cecilia Seares Luna is gunning for the gubernatorial post against incumbent Governor Eustaquio Bersamin. His brother lawyer Hans Luna is running for the congressional post versus incumbent Representative Ma. Jocelyn Valera-Bernos. His brother Jendricks is also running against Crisologo in Tineg.

However, the Cordillera top cop said the peace and order situation in Abra is more peaceful compared to previous polls with the continued Conflict Mediation Diffusion strategy implemented by the police to address conflicts between political rivals in the province.