SC affirms stay order vs unseating of Imus mayor

MANILA -- The Supreme Court acted favorably on the move of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to unseat Imus, Cavite Mayor Emmanuel Maliksi.

Issued last Friday, the TRO effectively barred the poll body from implementing its ruling allowing Maliksi's rival Homer Saquilayan to take over the municipal hall upon his proclamation as the real winner of the 2010 elections.

In a statement, the SC Public Information Office denied reports that Sereno acted arbitrarily when she failed to wait for the Court to rule on the case.

"The TRO…was issued by (Chief Justice Sereno) in response to and after careful study of the written request of the same date by the member-in-charge of the said case, copy of which was furnished the members of the Court. In today's (Tuesday) en banc session, the issuance of the said TRO by the Chief Justice was unanimously confirmed by the Court. There is thus no truth at all to allegations that the Chief Justice acted on her own and was influenced by the political pressure in issuing the TRO," SC acting spokesperson Gleoresty Guerra said.

Absent during the regular session were Justices Arturo Brion (personal leave), Mariano del Castillo (personal leave), Jose Perez (wellness leave), Bienvenido Reyes (business trip to Geneva, Switzerland) and Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who reportedly recommended the issuance of TRO before he took on a wellness leave last week.

Saquilayan's counsel Ferdinand Topacio said they will file a motion to quash TRO on Thursday.

"We are also saddened that the Supreme Court has stopped the implementation of the decision of the Comelec which, as an independent constitutional body, bears a heavy presumption of regularity in its decisions, on a matter that pertains to the peculiar competence of the Comelec, that is, the right of the people to choose their own leaders," Topacio said.

Maliksi, a relative of Cavite Representative Ireneo Maliksi who is a member of the Liberal Party, is said to be a major contributor to the 2010 campaign of President Benigno Aquino III. Sereno is Aquino's first appointee to the High Court. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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