AGOO, La Union – It looks like the contending candidates here in the last election are in a virtual tug-of-war after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) disqualified Frank Sibuma, who was proclaimed winner in the mayoral elections in May.
The disqualification stemmed from the questions of residency raised by Alma Panelo in a petition she filed with the Comelec.
The second division of the Comelec acted on the petition and directed the Agoo municipal board of canvassers to annul the proclamation of Sibuma.
However, the Election Officer of Agoo and the chairperson of the municipal canvassers said they will still meet on Tuesday, July 5, to finalize the decision.
From the looks of it, Sibuma would be dislodged by his political opponent Stefanie Ann Calongcagon who would be proclaimed as winner.
A Comelec officer named Mr. Onofree Tilang told Manila Bulletin that he himself received the copy of writ of execution of the Commission (Special Second Division), on June 29 via email, wherein the Comelec stated that the MBoC will reconvene in the afternoon of the 5th of July to execute the Comelec’s Second Division’s directive.
On that crucial date, the Comelec would either amend or correct the Certificate of Canvass of Votes and at the same time proclaim the winner in the position of Mayor.
Sibuma had also been served notices a day prior to his oath-taking.
“Ang gagawin po ng Municipal Board of Canvassers ay annul the proclamation of Frank Ong Sibuma as the Municipal Mayor of Agoo, La Union; Amend/Correct the Certificate of Canvass of Votes and Proclamation for the position of Mayor and Proclaim Stefanie Ann E. Calongcagon as the duly elected Municipal Mayor of Agoo, La Union” said Tilang.
Meanwhile, Sibuma posted on his Facebook account on June 30 the following lines: ‘As of 12 noon today, I officially take my post as municipal mayor of our beloved town, Agoo. I was served a writ of execution by the Comelec this morning to which we were given five days to respond.’
“We are 21,364 strong. Kakayanin ko ang laban dahil kasama ko kayo. Muli’t muli, maraming salamat po sa suporta niyo,” said Sibuma.
Sibuma garnered 21,364 votes against Calongcagon’s 16,603 votes. Sibuma supporters had also held vigil at the town hall after Sibuma filed with the Supreme Court for a temporary restraining order to stop his disqualification.
Sibuma and his supporters held a vigil at the town hall on Thursday, after filing a motion for a temporary restraining order before the Supreme Court to stop his disqualification.
The counsel for Sibuma had argued however that the disqualification of the respondent ‘produced no legal effect.’
“Respondent’s candidacy was, consequently, valid and subsisting when he was voted for during the election, and his proclamation as the winner, having obtained the highest number of votes, was perfectly in order and legal,” said Sibuma’s counsel, Lawyer Barnard Philip C. Claustro.
“The mere pendency of the petition to deny due course and/or cancel his Certificate of Candidacy (COC) without the Comelec having resolved the same before the election and even before the canvass, no longer justified the cancellation of his COC for the position of Mayor for the Municipality of Agoo, La Union,” argued Lawyer Claustro.
“To so hold would unduly frustrate the sovereign will of the electorate,” he added.
Employees in Agoo town, meanwhile, have been puzzled by the turn of events.
On July 1, 2022, Sibuma issued memorandum order No. 3-2022, which serves as a warning to all permanent employees.
It said that the implementation of the 4-Day workweek in the LGU-Agoo has been lifted under the Memorandum Order No. 2-2022, which was issued on June 30, 2022. Hence, the 5-Day workweek is effective as of July 1, 2022.
However, most of the employees of the Agoo disregarded the memorandum order and did not report for work on July 1.
Sibuma summoned all the permanent employees of the Agoo to explain in writing why they were absent. Sibuma said that failure to submit a written explanation shall be dealt with accordingly.
“May kanya kanya ng mga tao ang magkabilang kampo kaya kung ano gusto ng isa susundin at isa ganoon din, (The two camps have their own people who follow orders from them),” an employee here said, referring to Sibuma and Calongcagon.