SC flip-flops; Maliksi still mayor

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - The Supreme Court reversed itself on Thursday, April 11, granting a motion that effectively allows administration ally Emmanuel Maliksi to hold on to his seat as Imus, Cavite mayor.

The SC, voting 8-7, flip-flopped almost a month after it ruled that Maliksi's rival, Homer Saquilayan, is the rightful winner in the 2010 elections.

The SC granted Maliksi's motion for reconsideration and remanded the election case to the Commission on Elections (Comelec). The ruling also renders the Comelec's writ of execution - which would have put Saquilayan in power - moot.

The SC previously upheld the decision of the poll body issued on Aug 15, 2012, which junked a ruling of a Cavite regional court favoring Maliksi. It was a tight vote -- 8-7 in favor of Saquilayan.

In the latest decision, one justice changed his vote: Justice Jose Perez.

Those who voted to grant Maliksi's motion for reconsideration are Justices Lucas Bersamin, Presbitero Velasco, Teresita Leonardo De Castro, Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta, Jose Perez, Jose Mendoza and Bienvenido Reyes. 

Those who dissented were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Justice Antonio Carpio, Mariano Del Castillo, Roberto Abad, Martin Villarama, Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Marvic Leonen.

Saquilayan and Maliksi will face off in the 2013 midterm elections again. Saquilayan is running under the Nacionalista Party, while Maliksi is running under the Liberal Party.

In its decision, the Comelec's first division, chaired by then Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, said Saquilayan was the rightful winner after a recount that showed he defeated Maliksi by 8,429 votes.

Maliksi got 40,092 votes while Saquilayan got 48,521 votes.

It was Maliksi who first brought the case to the High Tribunal, winning a temporary restraining order (TRO) no less than from Sereno. The TRO sparked controversy since Sereno is an appointee of President Benigno Aquino III and Maliksi is a local Aquino ally. In the substantive aspects of the case, however, Sereno voted against Maliksi.

History of flip-flops

The High Tribunal has been criticized for its flip-flops, especially during the time of sacked Chief Justice Renato Corona. It was one of the basis for the filing of an impeachment complaint against him with the House of Representatives in December 2011.

Corona was accused of playing a key role in supposedly allowing the Supreme Court "to act on mere letters filed by a counsel which caused the issuance of a flip-flopping decision in final and executory cases." These cases include the row between the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) and the Philippine Airlines (PAL). (Read: Timeline: FASAP-PAL case)

Even the Sereno Court has its own flip-flops, the latest of which is this case involving Maliksi.

In July 2012, the SC withdrew a status quo ante order it issued a day earlier that stopped the implementation of a fixed salary scheme for bus drivers. After a special en banc session on Wednesday, July 11, the high court ruled to "defer" the enforcement of the said order, which it issued July 10. 

In November 2012, the High Court reversed its earlier decision on allowing live media coverage of the Ampatuan massacre trial, citing breach of rights of the accused. The SC decision was due to a motion for reconsideration filed by Andal Ampatuan Jr., one of the main suspects in the case that involved the gruesome killing of about 58 in Mindanao. -