Due to election protest, Bais City has no government

By Alex Pal
Visayas Bureau
Last updated 08:45pm (Mla time) 06/30/2007
BAIS CITY — When the local government units in Negros Oriental hold their flag ceremony on Monday, their newly elected officials will surely be there in full force.

But not in Bais City. An election protest case has prevented the Board of Election Inspectors from canvassing the votes in the last election and because of this, no one has been proclaimed as the winner in the May 14 election in this city.

Since the terms of office of Mayor Hector Villanueva, Vice Mayor Francisco Villanueva and the city councilors expired at noon Saturday, Bais City has been rendered leaderless starting 12:01 pm.

Villanueva was to close the Office of the Mayor effective 12:01 pm of Saturday.

“I will not go to the office. I will turn over all government materials in my possession. I will not use a single government property starting 12:01 p.m.,” said Villanueva, a candidate of the Lakas NUCD.

He said that while he will stay away from City Hall while no new officials shall have qualified, he is worried about the fate of the contractual and casual personnel. He said that he did not know who would sign the payroll for their salaries.

“Bahala na si Governor [Emilio Macias II]. Bahala na si Attorney [Colet] Aranas. Bahala na si Attorney [Victoriano] Tizon (the opposing lawyers), because they are the ones who are making a mockery of the elections in Bais,” he said.

The lawyers of the Nationalist People’s Coalition -Unity ticket have asked the Comelec to annul all the election returns and have the Comelec order a special election for Bais, due to what they claimed was the illegal composition of the Board of Canvassers.

The BOC, they claimed, consisted mostly of casual employees of the city, in violation of the requirement that “only public school teachers with permanent appointments” will serve.

The matter has still to be decided by the Comelec en banc.

Villanueva, who won the elections in unofficial counts against his cousin Vice Mayor Francisco Villanueva (NPC-Unity), warned that the hiatus could lead to chaos.

“The people have spoken and they are angry. I could not be blamed if there will be chaos in Bais because I have ceased to be mayor,” he said.

Under the Local Government Code, the expiration of the term of the elected officials results in a permanent vacancy. There being no one to succeed them, officers-in-charge may be appointed by the governor, in the case of the city council of component cities and the municipal council, or the President, through the Executive Secretary, in the case of the provincial board and the city council of highly urbanized cities and independent component cities.

Villanueva said that the results of the Bais elections might also decide the fate of the 12th senator. He said that the unofficial count had placed Zubiri as having won by 7,800 votes.

Villanueva said he was informed by Zubiri that if the Bais votes were counted, he would win the 12th senatorial slot.

“That’s fantastic. With that, I will win,” Zubiri told Villanueva by text message.

Villanueva said adding to the confusion of the people in Bais is the silence of the Department of Interior and Local Government.

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