MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Antique Vice Governor Rhodora Cadiao took her oath of office as the province’s new governor on Thursday, January 29, replacing disqualified governor Exequiel Javier.
But an official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Western Visayas said that Javier is still the governor.
In a phone interview, Cadiao told Rappler that she was sworn in at the session hall of Antique’s Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial board) in capital town San Jose. Barangay captain Aster Hiponio administered the oath to Cadiao.
Cadiao said she took her oath of office to prevent a “vacuum of leadership” in the province, following the issuance of a writ of execution by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on January 23 ordering her predecessor Javier to vacate his post.
On Friday, Cedrick Jaranilla, legal officer of DILG-Western Visayas, said in a phone interview that they have received information about Cadiao’s oath-taking, but they have not implemented any order yet. He also said that they have yet to know if the writ of execution has been personally served to Javier.
Jaranilla added that they are awaiting orders from the DILG central office in Manila, which he recalled was still clarifying things with the Comelec.
“As far as we’re concerned, as is, it’s still Governor Javier,” Jaranilla said.
Javier, a member of the Liberal Party (LP), was disqualified by the Comelec on the basis of “coercion” of a subordinate. He had suspended Valderrama town mayor Mary Joyce Roquero, a political rival, in January 2013.
The suspension of Roquero within the election period of the 2013 midterm polls was also prohibited under the Omnibus Election Code. The disqualification case was filed by Javier’s 2013 gubernatorial opponent, Cornelio Aldon, and former Valderrama mayor Raymundo Roquero.
Cadiao, allied with the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), replaced Javier following the rules on vacancies and succession under the Local Government Code.
Cadiao said that the DILG and top local election officials had 5 days to implement the writ of execution, but it lapsed on Wednesday.
She believed that the DILG was “dilly-dallying” on the service of the order to Javier, because he belongs to the political party of Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.
“The role of the DILG is ministerial. They should only serve the order. It is not for them to question its legality,” said Cadiao.
She added that Javier’s disqualification was final and executory, and only a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Supreme Court can stop its implementation. Javier had asked the SC to stop his suspension, but the High Court did not issue a TRO.
The DILG was invited to her oath-taking, but nobody from the agency came, Cadiao said.
Nevertheless, Cadiao hopes for a peaceful resolution of the issue and a smooth transition in the provincial capitol.
Asked about her plans following the oath-taking, Cadiao said she would inform the heads of government offices first of her assumption as the new Antique governor, and ask them about the problems they are facing.
She would focus, among others, on solving malnutrition in Antique, which has one of the highest incidence of malnutrition in the country. – Rappler.com