SAN Antonio, Zambales: The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has instructed the special municipal board of canvasser to formally proclaim Dr. Estela Antipolo as the new mayor of this town after nullifying the proclamation of Romeo Lonzanida who is still in hiding for falsification charges.
Voting 4-2-1, the commission en banc, ruled that Antipolo is the winner in the mayoral race in the May 10 elections and the proclamation of Lonzanida was null and void because of his conviction in a criminal case before the Sandiganbayan, which was affirmed by the Supreme Court.
In its six-page decision, the Comelec said that Lonzanida was never a candidate for the position of mayor so the votes cast for him should be considered stray votes.
The resolution also added that Lonzanida has never denied having been the mayor for nine consecutive years—an apparent violation of the three-term limit. The poll body therefore found him disqualified to run anew in the 2010 elections.
The Comelec also ordered Vice Mayor Efren Racel Aratea to cease and desist from discharging the functions of the mayor’s office and to cause a peaceful turn over to Antipolo upon her official proclamation.
But in an interview Aratea said that the Comelec resolution is not yet final and that they would still appeal the matter to a proper court.
“We will not give up this post, the resolution is not final and we are now preparing to file an appeal in the proper court.”
Aratea told SubicTimes.com.
Aratea also said that they would be filing a temporary restraining order.
He added that Antipolo has not yet come to the office and sought the post, “as of now, business as usual and the municipal hall remains peaceful.”
Aratea took over the post of mayor of San Antonio after Comelec has disqualified Lonzanida during the 2010 automated elections. He was elected as vice mayor of the town.