SC stops Comelec from proclaiming winner in mayoralty election in Agoo, La Union

Published July 6, 2022, 1:35 PM

by Rey Panaligan 

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court (SC) has stopped temporarily the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from enforcing its May 13, 2022 resolution that cancelled the certificate of candidacy (COC) of Frank Ong Sibuma in the last May 9 mayoralty election in Agoo, La Union.

In a resolution that contained a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a status quo ante order (SQAO), the SC effectively set aside, in the meantime, the Comelec’s proclamation last Tuesday, July 5, of Stefanie Ann Eriguel Calongcagon as mayor of Agoo town.

Status quo ante “is the state of affairs that preceded the onset of controversy.” It generally refers to “the last actual peaceful and uncontested situation that precedes a controversy.”

The TRO with SQAO was issued last Tuesday, July 5, by the SC during its full court session. A copy of the resolution was released to journalists by the SC’s public information office (PIO) on Wednesday, July 6.

The SC acted on the petition filed by Sibuma. In its resolution, the SC said:

“Require the respondents (Comelec, Alma L. Panelo and Calongcagon) to comment on the petition (filed by Sibuma) within a non-extendible period of 10 days from notice.

“Issue a TRO and SQAO, effective immediately and continuing until further orders from the Court, enjoining respondent Comelec from implementing its assailed Resolution dated May 13, 2022 in SPA No. 21-172 (DC) and the corresponding Writ of Execution dated June 29, 2022.

“Accordingly, the Comelec directive to the Municipal Board of Canvassers of the Municipality of Agoo, La Union to reconvene… on Tuesday, July 5, 2022… is restrained.”

Sibuma, who ran under People’s Reform Party, garnered 21,364 votes as against Calongcagon’s 16,603 votes.

Sibuma was proclaimed by the Municipal Board of Canvassers (MBoC) as the winner in the mayoralty race, despite the pendency of the petition for disqualification filed by Panelo.

In her petition, Panelo claimed that Sibuma made a material misrepresentation regarding his residence in violation of Section 78 of the Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, the Omnibus Election Code.

The Comelec granted Panelo’s petition.

In a resolution dated May 13, 2022, the Comelec ruled: “Wherefore, premises considered, the COMMISSION (Second Division) RESOLVED, as it hereby resolves, to grant the instant Petition. The Certificate of Candidacy of Respondent Frank Ong Sibuma for the position of Mayor in connection with the 2022 NLE is hereby cancelled.”