JAEN, Nueva Ecija – The Commission on Elections ordered the reinstatement of Mayor Sylvia Austria via a 60-day status quo ante order.
The Comelec Second Division in an order dated Jan. 12, signed by presiding commissioner Socorro Inting, also directed sitting Mayor Antonio Prospero Esquivel “to peacefully turn over the subject post (mayorship)” to Austria.
Regional Trial Court Branch 87 Judge Angelo Perez and all persons under his direct supervision were ordered “to cease and desist from enforcing or continuing to enforce and implement” the Notice of Finality, Certificate of Finality, Order of Execution, and the Writ of Execution which paved the way for Esquivel’s stint as mayor of this town.
Austria, complying with an order from the court and the Department of Interior and Local Government, stepped down from office on Dec. 22, 2020 after several days of impasse over the mayorship.
This, in the wake of the RTC declaring Austria’s 2019 proclamation null and void following Esquivel’s election protest.
In its Dec. 7, 2020 ruling, the court said that based on manual recount, Esquivel won the elections with 18,737 votes as against Austria’s more than 14,000 votes.
In 2019, the municipal board of canvassers declared Austria the winner after she garnered 20,815 votes while Esquivel obtained 18,461.
“In the interest of justice and so as not to render the issues raised therein moot and academic and the proceedings before this Commission a useless exercise, the Commission (Second Division) hereby issues a temporary restraining order, effective immediately, and for a period of sixty (60) days,” the order reads.
In a video message, Austria thanked her supporters for prayers and Comelec for “upholding the rule of law.”
“Magpasalamat tayo sa Panginoon, ang Diyos ay nasa atin. Hindi niya tayo pinabayaan — ang bayan ng Jaen,” she said
Esquivel did not comment but hinted they are set to file a motion for reconsideration.