Just in the nick of time, newly seated Mayor Chistian Halili was able to secure a 72-hour temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping former Pampanga Board Member Crisostomo Garbo from taking over at the Mabalacat City Hall on June 28.
Regional Trial Court III Executive Judge Omar Viola ordered the issuance of the TRO and Writ of Preliminary Injunction in favor of Halili, who petitioned before the court. The order was signed on June 27, the same day Garbo was reportedly proclaimed as the officially elected mayor of Mabalacat by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
The Comelec has proclaimed Garbo as the newly elected mayor of Mabalacat City at 3 p.m. at the Comelec Session Hall, Palacio Del Governador in Intramuros, Manila.
Comelec recognized Garbo as the duly elected mayor of Mabalacat after he garnered the 2nd highest number of votes (17, 710) in the May 2016 elections.
Garbo is allegedly expecting to assume post on June 28. However, the RTC ordered the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Garbo to “cease and desist from any action that will result in the removal from the mayoralty position of the petitioner.”
Judge Viola also ruled that the issues concerning the case of Halili and Garbo are “complicated and unique” and such should be resolved in a full-blown trial. The case will be raffled on June 28, 2017 at 9 a.m.
Halili assumed as Mabalacat mayor last June 19 after former Mayor Marino Morales stepped down from office.
The DILG executed the Comelec en Banc’s order cancelling the certificate of candidacy of former Mayor Morales in the May 2016 elections. This ruling in effect disqualifies Morales as a candidate and nullifying the 40,000-votes he garnered in the last elections. Same ruling of the Comelec affirms the victory of his contender, Garbo, who gained 17, 710 votes.
Halili, the elected vice mayor, took over after Morales stepped down by virtue of the rule of succession under Section 44 of the Local Government Code (LGC) of the Philippines. Under this provision, the vice mayor automatically assumes the post in an event of a permanent vacancy.
“For purposes of this Chapter, a permanent vacancy arises when an elective local official fills a higher vacant office, refuses to assume office, fails to qualify, dies, is removed from office, voluntarily resigns, or is otherwise permanently incapacitated to discharge the functions of his office,” the LGC states.
In an interview with iorbitnews.com, Halili said that he is both confident and hopeful that he will be granted a permanent injunction after the 72-hour TRO.
He also appealed to all Mabalaquenos to be calm and refrain from unnecessary disorder. And should Garbo’s camp tries to occupy the mayor’s office despite the TRO, Halili said “pipilitin po natin na maging mapayapa at maayos ang lahat. Handa naman tayong makipag-usap ng mahinahon sa kanila kung sakaling dumating sila. At pagkatapos ng TRO na ito, pinagdadasal natin na sana ay maresolba ito ng maayos at mabigyan ng paglilinaw ang sitwasyon natin ngayon.”
He also pleaded to everyone to respect the privacy of Morales.
“He stepped down peacefully so let us respect his privacy. He served Mabalacat well and we are very thankful to his dedication and leadership,” Halili said in reflection of Morales’ term as mayor of Malabacat.
Pyra Lucas, who filed the disqualification case against Morales, was seen with Garbo at the Comelec’s office in Manila when the latter was proclaimed as mayor.
Lucas was defeated in the May 2016 elections, coming in last among four candidates for mayor.