Saquilayan vs Maliksi: Let the voters decide

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By Mikha Flores, VERA Files

The ordered recount of the 2010 votes of Homer Saquilayan and incumbent Mayor Emmanuel Maliksi in Imus, Cavite may take a month, the Commission on Election says, and by the time it is completed, the two will again be competing against each other in the May 13 polls.

Chairman Sixto Brillantes says the poll body will decrypt the ballot images and do a recount as ordered by the Supreme Court, but in the end, the electorate should be left to decide whom they prefer.

“I think it should really be thrown to the people of Imus. Hayaan mo na ang taong bayan ng Imus na magdecide (Let the people of Imus decide),” Brillantes said.

With only a month left before the May 13 elections, results of the recount are moot and academic.

Voters should now decide, Brillantes said, who should sit as mayor of Imus, Cavite, which had Saquilayan and Maliksi, from the Liberal Party, as chief executive at different periods over the past three years.

In a turnaround, the high court on Thursday reinstated Maliksi as mayor barely a month after declaring his rival as the real winner in the May 2010 elections. In its March 12 decision, the Supreme Court voted 8-7 affirming the Comelec’s decision declaring Saquilayan the winner.

The Comelec issued a writ of execution dated March 15 ordering Maliksi to relinquish his post but the mayor refused to vacate his office and later filed a motion for reconsideration.

In granting Maliksi’s motion on an 8-7 vote on Thursday, the Supreme Court nullified the Comelec’s writ and remanded the case back to poll body for a recount.

Associate Justice Jose Perez provided the swing vote to favor Maliksi in the Supreme Court’s latest flip-flop. Perez is the only one among the 15 justices who changed his vote from their previous decision.

Brillantes said the Comelec is no longer keen in asking for reconsideration with only a month left before the mid-term elections.

“I don’t know what the lawyers of Saquilayan will do. As far as the Commission on Elections is concerned, we can ask for reconsideration ourselves pero hindi na kami gagalaw (but we won’t move anymore),” he said, adding that the case may already become moot and academic.

Despite the setback from the latest reversal, Brillantes said Comelec did nothing wrong when they were resolving the case.

Wala kaming maling ginagawa sa tingin ko. Ayoko namang sabihing ang Supreme Court ang nagkakamali kasi hindi naman dapat sila magkamali e. Mas mataas sila nang malayo sa amin pero hindi ako naniniwala na kami ang nagkamali (We’re doing nothing wrong. I don’t want to say the Supreme Court is wrong because they are supposed to be infallible. They are way higher than us but I refuse to believe that we were wrong,” he said.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)

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