THE Supreme Court (SC) has issued a status quo ante order on a Commission on Elections (Comelec) ruling unseating a Lanao del Norte municipal mayor who won in the May 2013 polls.
In a full court decision signed by Clerk of Court Enriqueta Vidal, the tribunal held that Mayor Rommel Arnado “shall continue to assume and exercise the functions and powers of the Office of the Mayor of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte until further orders from [the court.]”
The court directed “the parties to maintain the [SQAO] prior to the issuance of the Comelec en banc’s December 17, 2013 writ of execution.”
Arnado and Florante Capitan were the only candidates for the office of the mayor during the May 2013 elections.
On May 10, 2013, Capitan filed a petition against Arnado before the Comelec to disqualify the latter or cancel his certificate of candidacy.
On May 13, 2013, while the case was pending resolution, the elections were held where Arnado garnered 8, 902 votes while Capitan obtained only 1, 707 votes. Arnado was proclaimed as the winning candidate on May 14, 2013.
The poll body’s second division disqualified Arnado on September 6, 2013 in the concluded elections, and the ruling was affirmed by the Comelec en banc on December 9, 2013.
Arnado’s proclamation was annulled and Capitan was declared the duly elected mayor of the town.
On December 23, 2013, Arnado filed an urgent motion for issuance of SQA or temporary restraining order.
The high court issued a TRO on January 14, 2014 enjoining the Comelec from implementing its resolutions.
Capitan took his oath of office on January2, 2014 and even issued and sent memoranda to various offices.
This prompted the high tribunal to issue an SQA.
“In view of the foregoing developments, it has become necessary to issue a status quo ante order, upon terms . . . below stated, in the interest of substantial justice and so as not to moot or render nugatory the purpose of the TRO issued by this court on January 14, 2014,” the ruling read.
“In the event that Capitan has assumed the office of mayor of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, he is hereby ordered to vacate the . . . office.”
Prior to the case filed by Capitan, Arnado was found that he is not qualified from running for any elective local position as he had dual citizenship during the filing of his COC for the 2010 local elections.
The record showed that Arnado, a pilot by profession, 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.