By Abe Almirol
SANTIAGO CITY – The Supreme Court has issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the Commission on Elections not to enforce its assailed December 22, 2021 decision denying the substitution of the official candidate of the Partido para sa Demokratikong Reporma (PDR) for city mayor here.
The Comelec decision contained in Doc. No. 21-7467 denied the substitution of Amelita S. Navarro as PDR’s candidate for mayor by lawyer Giorgidi B. Aggabao.
Aggabao is a former representative of Isabela’s 4th District. The high court found the ex-solon’s petition sufficient in form and substance in its two-page TRO ruling issued January 25.
Navarro, a former mayor, lost to Joseph Tan, the incumbent mayor of Santiago City, who has just completed his last term and now running as congressman of Isabela’s 4th District.
Joseph Tan’s niece, incumbent 4th district Rep. Sheena Tan, is now running for Santiago City mayor.
During the filing of candidacy for the May 2022 national and local elections, one Christopher G. Ayson filed his certificate of nomination (CONA) as City Mayor.
His CONA indicates that he is nominated by the same political party that also nominated Amelita S. Navarro, prompting COMELEC to declare both candidates as “independent.”
Navarro’s camp said they were surprised to know that another candidate used a certificate of nomination from PDR, prompting them to ask the party’s top leader, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, to act on the matter.
Navarro has announced that Lacson issued a letter affirming Navarro as PDR’s “official candidate” and also denied knowing Ayson and signing his CONA.
When the period allowed for substitution came, Navarro’s camp decided that she will slide down as Vice Mayor and Aggabao will substitute as the candidate for Mayor. However, Comelec ruled that Aggabao could not substitute Navarro in its decision embodied in Doc. No. 21-7467.
On his social media page, Aggabao announced that he filed a petition before the Supreme Court to challenge Comelec’s decision, which was favorably acted on via the TRO issued on Tuesday.
Aggabao’s supporters were jubilant upon hearing the news. There is still hope for the “best mayor that we never had,” the group Kabataang Santiagueño said on its social media page.
The Comelec’s tentative list on its website named nine candidates for Santiago City mayor. Aggabao’s name was not yet on the list as of press time.
An alleged photocopy of the May 2022 ballot also circulated on social media, but Aggabao’s name is not among the choices for mayor in it.