Hight Court shoos away American from town post

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THE Supreme Court has ruled with finality unseating a municipal mayor who won in the May 2010 polls in Lanao del Norte after the high tribunal found out that he is not qualified from running for any elective local position as he had dual citizenship during the filing of his certificate of candidacy.

In a full court ruling, the High Court junked the motion for reconsideration filed by Rommel Arnado who was ruled disqualified to run for any elective position and is disqualified as Mayor of Kauswagan, Lanao Del Norte in the May 2010 polls.

The Court granted the petition for certiorari (Rule 64 in relation to Rule 65) filed by candidate Casan Macode Maquiling who assailed the resolution of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc dated February 2, 2011.

The high court annulled and set aside the Comelec decision.

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“Respondent Rommel Arna-do is disqualified from running for any elective local position . . . Maquiling is declared the duly elected Mayor of Kaus-wagan, Lanao del Norte in the 10 May 2010 elections,” the ruling said.

On April 28, 2010, Linog Balua, another mayoralty candidate, filed a petition to disqualify Arnado and/or to cancel the latter’s certificate of candidacy (COC), contending that Arnado is not a resident of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte and that he is a foreigner, attaching as ostensible proof a certification issued by the Bureau of Immigration dated April 23, 2010 indicating the nationality of Arnado as“USA-American.”

To further support this claim, Balua presented a computer-generated travel record dated December 3, 2009 indicating that Arnado had been using his US passport in entering and departing the Philippines.

The record showed that Arnado left the country on April 14, 2009 and returned on June 25, 2009 and again departed on July 29, 2009 arriving back in the country on November 24, 2009.

Balua also presented a certification from the Bureau of Immigration dated April 23, 2010 certifying that a person by the name of “Arnado, Rommel Cagoco” appeared on the database listing as of April 21, 2010 and, based on the entries thereon, was listed as an American citizen.

Arnado garnered the highest number of votes and was proclaimed as the winning candidate for Mayor of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte.

It was only after his proclamation that Arnado filed his Answer, attaching, among other documents, his Affidavit of Renunciation and Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines dated April 3, 2009.

The Comelec First Division considered Balua’s petition as one for disqualification, instead of an action for cancellation of COC based on misrepresentation.

Balua’s contention that Arnado was a resident of the US was dismissed upon a finding that “Balua failed to present any evidence to support his contention”.

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