By Rey Anthony Chiu | 11:02 AM May 21, 2023
Almost a year after elected local government officials were supposed to assume their seats, Mayor Victoriano Torres III (DongT), finally obtained the mandate as proclaimed mayor of Alicia, Bohol.
The 7th Judicial Region, Regional Trial Court Branch 51 (RTC Branch 51) Presiding Judge Jorge Espinal proclaimed Mayor Torres as winning mayor and Carmen Mayor Conchita Toribio-delos Reyes administered his oath of office, May 19.
This, despite the apparent inaction of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to proclaim Torres, even after Judge Espinal insisted that it is the Comelec’s duty to do so.
It was as early as July 15, 2022, when the RTC directed the Comelec to proclaim Torres, as the winning mayor, after winning in the election protest docketed as Election Case No. 2022-01 over Marnilou Ayuban, who remains in hiding after getting tried for election offenses.
Ayuban, was declared ‘no candidate’ for falsifying his certificate of candidacy.
“The decision has long become final and executory October 7, 2022 with the issuance of the entry of judgment by the Comelec En Banc, February 16, 2023,” asserted Judge Espinal.
It would take the RTC two batches of communications to the Comelec : March 2 and March 22, to ask Comelec Chairman George Erwin Garcia to proclaim Torres III, but the election body ignored the court order.
As the Comelec declined to proclaim Torres upon orders of the court, Espinal wrote to the Court Administrator of the Supreme Court in inquire about the propriety of the court itself, proclaiming Mayor Dong Torres.
By April 20, 2023, Court Administrator Raul B. Villanueva affirmed the RTC’s position, further stating that it is within the sound discretion of the Court whether to proclaim Torres as the winner in the 2022 Mayoral Election of Alicia Bohol.
In an order penned May 12, 2023 in Carmen, Bohol, Judge Espinal set the proclamation of Mayor Torres III, on May 19, 2023 at 8:30 in the morning.
Immediately after, Mayor Torres also took his Oath of Office before Carmen mayor Conchita Toribio delos Reyes.
Republic Act No. 10755 has even authorized punong barangays to administer the oath of office of any government official, even the President of the Philippines.
On that same day, Torres informed Governor Erico Aristotle Aumentado of his assumption to office as the Municipal Mayor of Alicia, in a communication bearing 8 annexes: the quo warranto decision of the RTC issued by Judge Espinal dated July 15, 2022, Comelec’s 1st Division Order of the Elections Appeal Case (EAC) No. 055-2022 issued by Presiding Commissioner Socorro B. Inting dated October 7, 2022, Comelec En Banc Order with EAC No 055-2022 issued by Chairman Garcia dated February 10.
Mayor Torres also affixed a copy of the Comelec Entry of Judgment dated February 16, the Writ of Execution of the RTC Branch 51 dated February 28, 2023, the order to set the proclamation issued by Judge Espinal dated May 12, 2023.
He also annexed a copy of his proclamation issued by Judge Espinal dated May 19 and his oath of office administered by Mayor delos Reyes dated May 19.
As this happened, Mayor Cesyl Balahay reverts to her position as vice mayor.
VMayor Balahay was Mayor Torres III’s running mate in the 2022 elections. (PIABohol)