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Tension running high at city hall of Legazpi in Albay

By Manly M. Ugalde

LEGAZPI City --- Tension runs high at the City Hall more than a month after the former city mayor-turned- governor Noel Rosal was disqualified and finally evicted by the Commission on Election on November 19, last year.

Failing to get a temporary restraining order from the High Court, on December 1, Rosal was replaced by Vice Gov. Edcel Greco Lagman who was officially installed governor by the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Both Gov. Rosal and wife Geraldine, who was elected city mayor, were disqualified by the Comelec for distributing cash assistance to senior citizens and tricycle drivers during the 45-day election ban.

The case was filed by a defeated city councilor candidate Joseph San Juan Armogila, a tricycle driver. The embattled mayor is awaiting decision from the Comelec en banc after she was disqualified by the Comelec 2nd Division barely two weeks after the Comelec 1st Division issued its disqualification order for Gov. Rosal on September 19.

On November 19, 2022 or two months later, the Comelec en banc promulgated its final ultimatum for Gov. Rosal disqualification followed by a writ of execution.

With Rosal failing to secure the TRO, he is now banking on the certiorari he filed for the status quo ante order pending before the Supreme Court.

As this developed, city hall employees are in quandary – a wait and see status – as to who would be the next mayor should a similar fate penned for Gov. Rosal by the Comelec en banc, follows. As expected at the city hall, Vice Mayor Bobby Cristobal would be a replacement in case the mayor elect is finally disqualified by the Comelec en banc.

Mrs. Rosal has filed a motion for reconsideration, said city hall executive assistant Santiago Baltazar. It’s a wait and see at the city hall, adding the embattled mayor is busy attending her works, Baltazar added.

The tensed quandary among city hall employees stemmed from a separate case filed before the Comelec for the recount of votes by defeated mayoral bet, Ako Bicol party list congressman Alfredo Garbin. Garbin was defeated by Rosal by a small 500-plus margin of votes during the May 9 election. In addition, Garbin also filed a motion for intervention before the Comelec, citing his legal interest being the 2nd top elected official who garnered high votes next to the elected mayor. Garbin claimed he is the legitimate successor for the mayoral post should Rosal be disqualified by the Comelec en banc.

A source said the Comelec en banc disqualification order for Mayor Rosal may surface this January 2023.

A source, however, said vice mayor Cristobal has disputed the interest of Garbin in filing the motion for intervention as the legitimate successor for the mayoral post, explaining he is the only qualified successor by operation of law should the motion for reconsideration filed by the incumbent mayor is denied by the Comelec en banc, citing the case of Gov. Rosal who was succeeded by the vice governor. Cristobal is the running tandem of Mayor Rosal in the May 9 election.

Political observers said that should Mayor Geraldine Rosal be disqualified by the Comelec en banc, it would a double whammy for Legazpi city residents and the Rosal family, who had demonstrated a healthy and impressive leadership as mayor of Legazpi for decades that catapulted him to governorship on the strength of a highly dignified performance.


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